Visy Board Pty Ltd has been fined $275,000 (and ordered to pay $8500 in costs) over an incident in which a worker had parts of two fingers severed.
The company pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court.
Visy Board operates a cardboard box factory in O’Connor that produces cardboard packaging products such as cartons, pizza boxes, removal boxes and shoe boxes. In January 2020, employees of the company were operating a machine called a Titan 1 that processes blank corrugated cardboard sheets to create printed, creased and cut sheets to be folded along crease and cut lines to form containers.
Pizza boxes were being made, and it was not uncommon for jams to occur in the feed end of the machine when making pizza boxes. There had been four jams that morning previous to this incident. Following the fifth jam at the feed end, a worker was making adjustments to the machine when his left hand was pulled into the feed rolls, severing two segments of his middle finger and the top segment of his ring finger.
At the time the machine was still running – it had not been stopped as Visy Board’s procedures required. The worker was aware that the machine had not been stopped but had pushed a blank card into the feed gate which had contacted a roller and dragged the card and his hand into the machine. Another worker had then hit the machine stop button.
Acting WorkSafe Commissioner Sally North said the case was yet another reminder of the importance of having procedures in place to isolate machinery when clearing blockages and ensuring that these procedures were followed.
“Although Visy Board had written procedures in place, the court heard that the company was not training and assessing the competency of workers in accordance with their own procedures,” North said. “In addition, the Standard Work Procedure for the clearing of blockages or jams in the machine required it to be completely stopped and gave clear instructions on how to achieve this.
“The worker who was primarily responsible for clearing jams and who was working with the injured person had not seen the Standard Work Procedure prior to this incident and had not been subject to a relevant competency assessment as was required by Visy Board.
“The injured worker had not been specifically trained on how to deal with jams on the feeder end of the Titan 1 but had received general instruction to stop the machine when clearing a jam.
“Following this incident, Visy Board added a plastic strip to the infeed of the machine to reduce the risk of hands entering and installed three engineering or electrical controls to further reduce the risks.
“However the company had previously failed to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure their employees were not exposed to hazards and this resulted in permanent injury to a worker,” added North.
The code of practice Managing risks of plant in the workplace outlines the hazards associated with the moving parts of machinery. It is available on WorkSafe’s website.
ProPack made several attempts to contact a series of Visy representatives for comment – but there was no response received prior to publication.