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Unsafe workplace costs Tullamarine company $50,000

02 September 2011

A Tullamarine company has been fined $50,000 after two men suffered serious injuries to their hands in February 2009.

Willow Ware Australia Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to one charge laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Melbourne Magistrates Court was told two men were installing a switch on a machine which activated and caused crushing injuries to the men’s hands.

While hydraulic air hoses had been removed from the area being worked on, this was not sufficient to fully isolate the machine and prevent it from causing injury.

WorkSafe’s General Manager (Operations) for Health and Safety, Lisa Sturzenegger, said not ensuring machinery was made safe before it was worked-on was a frequent cause of serious injury.

“As this case shows, injuries often happen during installation and maintenance. These are some of the most dangerous times as normal precautions may be set aside for the work to be done.

“In those situations, alternate procedures must be in place and the machine made safe. In the case of hydraulic plant pressure must be released or vented so that operation or movement of parts is not possible.

“As with all workplace safety incidents, simple measures can make a big difference.”

Apart from its $50,000 fine, Willow Ware was ordered to pay court costs of $9399.02

The charge and what the law says: Section 21(1) and (2)(a)   of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.

Section 21 -

(1) An employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees of

the employer a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.

(2) Without limiting sub-section (1), an employer contravenes that sub-section if the employer fails to do any of the following -

(a) provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe

and without risks to health.