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February 2021

Inexperienced, untrained worker saws finger with electric planer

Inexperienced, untrained worker saws finger with electric planer

The Case

WorkSafe Victoria v Viscount Rotational Mouldings Pty Ltd (2020)

Viscount Rotational Mouldings Pty Ltd (company) operates a plastic factory involved in moulding processes. On 12 September 2017, an employee of the company was trimming excess plastic off a door panel with an electric planer. While doing so, the electric planer sawed his middle finger from just above the knuckle.

The employee had no experience in performing the task and did not receive training on how to trim plastic with an electric planer. Further, the employee did not have access to a standard work instruction.

The Judgment

The company pleaded guilty to breaching sections 21(1) and 21(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) by failing to provide a safe working environment and safe system of work. The Frankston Magistrates’ Court imposed a fine of $16,000.

The Lessons

You must ensure that all workers have adequate training before operating equipment and performing tasks that pose a risk to their health and safety. You should also retain records of training inductions, and ensure that safety instructions are readily accessible to your workers at all times.

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