VIC: carton maker fined $40,000 after serious hand injury

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.
Wednesday, 2 November, 2022 - 12:45
Incidents & prosecutions

A corrugated cardboard manufacturer in Victoria has been fined a total of $40,000 after failing to control health and safety risks from a gluing machine at a Campbellfield factory.

Carton Finishing pleaded guilty in the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court to a single charge of failing to provide a safe plant and a single charge of failing to ensure that the presence and location of asbestos was clearly indicated.

The company was, without conviction, fined $20,000 for each charge and ordered to pay $4,319 in costs.

In January 2020, a worker sustained a serious hand injury while operating a machine used to glue pieces of cardboard together.

The worker’s hand became caught in a pulley belt rotating at high speed after they tripped on hoses laying on the ground nearby and fell forward into the machine.

After the incident, a WorkSafe Victoria inspector issued a prohibition notice in relation to access to the dangerous areas of the machine. A number of improvement notices were also issued for other risks associated with the machine.

In March 2020, inspectors following up on the improvement notices were advised by the company that twelve insulating blocks used to shield heat from the machine contained asbestos. Tests subsequently confirmed the blocks contained chrysotile asbestos.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable for Carton Finishing to have eliminated or reduced the risk to health and safety by installing guarding that prevented access to the machine’s moving parts.

The company also had a duty under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations to ensure the insulating blocks were clearly labelled as containing asbestos.

WorkSafe Victoria's director of health and safety, Narelle Beer, said there was simply no excuse for leaving workers exposed to the risk of unsafe machinery.

“Employers must ensure any machine used in their workplace is fitted with adequate guarding and that any attachments are made from appropriate materials,” Beer said.