Safety Shortcut Ends In Serious Injury, $40,000 Fine

Uniroll Roofing Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Warrnambool Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 16 May after pleading guilty to one charge of failing to provide or maintain a safe system of work and one charge of failing to provide employees with necessary information, instruction or training.

The company was also ordered to pay $4207 in costs.

The court heard the inexperienced worker, who had only started at the company a week earlier and had not received any documented training, was tasked with operating a metal forming press, which rolled metal sheets through a series of rollers, in April 2022.

The worker noticed the rollers were depositing marks on the metal and shut the machine down to clean them. Seeing this, the company’s co-owner advised there was a more effective way to clean the rollers, and showed the worker how to program the machine to bypass the interlock guarding and clean the rollers while they were still operating.

Seconds later, the scouring pad the worker was using became caught in a roller and dragged his hand into the machine, crushing and degloving two of his fingers.

The worker required multiple surgeries and was not able to return to full-time duties until August 2022, when his employment was terminated.

It was reasonably practicable for Uniroll Roofing to have implemented a lock-out tag procedure requiring workers to turn the machine off and isolate power to it prior to cleaning, and to have provided adequate information, instruction and training on this procedure and the fact cleaning should only occur when the rollers were not operating.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said WorkSafe would not hesitate to take action where employers did not put the safety of workers first.

“It is incredibly alarming that this inexperienced worker was put in harm’s way by someone in authority who they should have been able to rely on to keep them safe,” Dr Beer said.

“It is simply unacceptable to take shortcuts on safety and fail to ensure there are safe systems of work and appropriate information, instruction and training for workers to do the job safely.”

Tips for cleaning plant and equipment safely:

  • Undertake a risk assessment to identify any hazards and assess how to remove or control them.
  • Have a documented procedure in place, including on how to power down and isolate equipment, and ensure it is available in a worker’s first language.
  • Ensure machines are powered down, fully secured and stable before cleaning begins.
  • Ensure machinery is properly guarded and safety interlocks are regularly checked.
  • Ensure workers are properly trained and supervised so they understand the procedure and the risks associated with the plant and equipment being cleaned.

/Public Release. View in full here.