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Steel fabricator fined $66,000 for inadequate controls

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.
Date: 
Wednesday, 22 September, 2021 - 10:00
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
South Australia

A steel fabricator business in Riverland, South Australia that failed to address safety issues and ensure appropriate control measures were in place has been convicted and ordered to pay fines totalling $66,000.

J.M.A Engineering Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) for breaches of section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA).

In March 2019 a worker suffered crush injuries to their hand when it became caught in a de-coiler machine.

The worker sustained serious injuries requiring hospitalisation and reconstruction surgery to his hand.

A SafeWork SA investigation identified that the risk of injury was foreseeable and the incident could have been avoided had the company implemented engineering controls, rather than purely relying on administrative controls.

J.M.A Engineering Pty Ltd exposed workers to a risk of serious injury by failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable:

  • a safe system of work for the task by not completing an adequate hazard identification and risk assessment process specific to the use of the de-coiler roller (including the application of protective layers to the roll)
  • a safe working environment by not adequately guarding the rollers during the operation of the de-coiler roller and
  • workers maintained a safe distance from the pinch point of the de-coiler machine.

The SAET convicted J.M.A Engineering Pty Ltd and imposed a fine of $66,000 (after discount for early guilty plea) plus legal fees.

SafeWork SA executive director, Martyn Campbell said this incident is an example of where risks were not assessed, resulting in the failure to properly guard machinery.

“Installing a guard near the pinch point of machinery is a simple and well-known solution that would have prevented this incident,” Campbell said.

“It is the responsibility of persons conducting a business or undertaking to ensure they are doing all they can to keep their workers safe, including applying higher-order controls and not relying purely on administrative controls.”