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VIC: company fined $25,000 after robotic arm crushes worker fingers

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Wednesday, 4 August, 2021 - 12:45
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Victoria

A company in Victoria was recently fined $25,000 over an incident in which an employee’s fingers were crushed by a robotic arm.

The company, which operates a factory at Carrum Downs, manufactures baby formula and other milk powder products.

A robotic arm was used to lift cans of the baby formula using suction arms for packing the cans into boxes for distribution.

The robotic arm was enclosed by perspex to prevent employees from entering the room while the robotic arm is in operation.

There were two interlocking doors that allow access to the robot room, and once the doors are opened, the robotic arm stops operation as a safety measure.

At the time of the incident, the guarding was inadequate as there were three gaps in the perspex which could allow employees entry to the robot room without triggering the interlocking doors.

On 18 July 2021, an employee was working on the production line and observed that there was a can stuck on the conveyor inside the robot room.

The employee entered the robot room through a gap in the perspex. As the employee lifted the stuck can off the conveyer, the robotic arm activated/lowered, and the employee sustained crushing injuries to the tips of his fingers.

The employee returned to work a few days after the incident.

The company pleaded guilty and was without conviction sentenced by the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court to pay a fine of $25,000 and to pay costs of $2386.33.

Had it not been for the plea of guilty, pursuant to section 6AAA of the Sentencing Act, the company would have been convicted and fined $50,000.