Company fined $40,000 after worker’s hand crushed

A cardboard manufacturer in Victoria has been convicted and fined $40,000 after a worker’s hand was dragged into unguarded machinery at a Keysborough factory.

Lazo Paper, now in liquidation, was sentenced in the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court after being found guilty of two charges of failing to provide and maintain plant that was safe and without risks to health. The company was also ordered to pay costs of $4941.

In May 2022 the worker, who spoke little English, was tasked with cleaning a large gluing machine that consisted of a flat bench and two powered rollers.

The worker, who had not previously cleaned the machine or seen anyone else do the task, was wiping the bottom roller while it was running when the cloth became caught, dragging his hand between the rollers.

The worker suffered two broken fingers and was off work for eight weeks.

A WorkSafe Victoria investigation found guarding on the machine, which included the use of corrugated cardboard bound together as a makeshift guard on the top of the machine, was unsecured and inadequate.

It was reasonably practicable for the company to ensure the machine had guarding, including an interlock device, that only allowed bodily access to the rollers when there was no risk and prevented bodily access at all other times.

“The installation of guarding is a simple and relatively cost-effective way to reduce the risks of workers making contact with running machines,” said WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety, Narelle Beer.

“Employers should take proactive steps to ensure the safety of their workers, particularly those who may be more vulnerable due to inexperience or a language barrier.”