$40,000 fine after worker’s arm caught in shredder

A scrap metal recycler in Tottenham Victoria was recently fined $40,000 after a contractor’s arm was caught in a machine that had guarding removed.

Manhari International was sentenced in the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to two charges of failing to ensure a workplace under its management or control was safe and without risks to health. The company was fined without conviction and also ordered to pay costs of $4132.

In August 2021, a contractor was operating a shredding machine used to separate, compact and cut materials at the company’s Tottenham recycling plant, when he noticed one of two conveyor belts was stopping and starting.

As he knelt next to the conveyor, the contractor fell forward, touching the belt with his left hand which was dragged into the machine up to his elbow.

He suffered broken bones and skin loss, requiring multiple surgeries and skin grafts, and is unlikely to ever regain full use of his lower arm and hand.

A WorkSafe Victoria investigation found that the factory-supplied side guarding had been removed from the conveyor, and that no guarding was in place, despite the risk of exposed rollers and rotating parts being identified in a risk assessment of the machine when it was installed in May 2020.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable for Manhari International to reduce the risks by not removing the factory-supplied guarding, installing guarding over the running in nip-points on the two conveyor belts, and having a system of work that included a safe work procedure and required workers to ensure guards were fitted.

“Safety guarding on plant and machinery is crucial to keeping everyone in the workplace safe and reducing the very real risk of death or serious injury – so it beggars belief that anyone would allow such a machine to operate without this in place,” said WorkSafe Victoria executive director health and safety, Narelle Beer.

“In this case a worker has suffered a traumatic and life-changing injury that sadly, could and should have been prevented.”