QLD: $40,000 fine issued over workplace amputation in Crestmead

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 14 September, 2020 - 12:15
Incidents & prosecutions

A sheet metal fabrication business and a company director have both appeared before Beenleigh Magistrates Court in Queensland over a workplace incident in which a young work experience student had the tip of his finger amputated.

Both pleaded guilty to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 over the incident, having failed to meet their work health and safety duties.

The court heard that on 25 September 2018, a 15-year-old work experience student was at the workplace operating an up stroking hydraulic brake-press machine to flatten metal when the tip of his finger went into the opening of the press.

He accidentally operated the brake press which resulted in the amputation of the tip of his finger.

An investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland found the machine did not have sufficient safeguards to prevent against this risk of injury.

WHSQ found the gap in the machine allowed for the hand or finger of the worker to enter when it was in operation; the closing speed of the brake press didn’t allow sufficient time for a worker to react and remove body parts prior to closure; and the laser safe system on the brake press had been disengaged (which would have meant the brake press would not have operated as it would have detected the finger in the press.)

In relation to the offending conduct, there was a failure to implement a system of plant inspection to ensure it was safe to operate and there was not appropriate induction training and supervision processes for young workers.

Magistrate Louise Shephard accepted the laser safe device had not been deliberately deactivated (having been deactivated as was required after previous use of the machine). Her Honour noted the company director had shown regret over the incident, cooperated with the investigation, and had taken significant steps to ensure the incident didn’t reoccur.

The small business had no history of previous offending against work safety laws in its 40 years of operation.

Magistrate Shephard fined the company $40,000, plus costs of almost $850. No conviction was recorded.

Her Honour made an order for a two-year undertaking against the director, with no conviction recorded, as well as costs of almost $850.