Mill fined $40k for sawn-off fingers
A TIMBER mill has been fined $40,000 after a worker had four fingers sliced off on the job.
Tiaro sawmill Dale and Meyers pleaded guilty in Maryborough Magistrates Court to one count of failing to comply with health and safety duty - category 2 in relation to the November 14, 2016 incident.
Representatives from the business were present for the sentencing.
The benchman was cutting ironbark timber on a saw bench when he manually adjusted nuts on the machine with a spanner before slipping, causing his right hand to fall forward into the rotating blade.
Four of the man's digits were severed in the accident.
Court documents stated it was common for the saw blade to move out of alignment.
"Unfortunately, during the process, things went awry," barrister Trajce Cvetkovski, appearing for the Office of Industrial Relations, told the court.
"There was a serious injury which could have been prevented."
While the company did not authorise the procedure that led to the incident, the company ultimately accepted responsibility, the court was told.
In response to the accident, the sawmill's workforce have been retraining and the machine involved in the incident had a steel guard mesh installed to prevent further injuries, the court heard.
The worker had been wearing appropriate protective gear including gloves during the incident happened and the company immediately notified Workplace Health and Safety.
In addition, the company provided $2000 to the man in the aftermath to assist him and his family and also offered assistance with accommodation.
The worker decided he did not want to continue working at the mill, although he was offered a position in which he would not have to work near blades.
The court heard the business had been operating since 1988. It was the first serious workplace incident it had experienced.
Magistrates John Parker said it was a case that exemplified the old statement that familiarity bred contempt.
"People are so familiar with using equipment they let their guard down and these tragic incidents occur," he said.
"They are good corporate citizens."
Mr Parker said employees were trained in appropriate procedures, wearing appropriate protective equipment and the business had rectified the problem and given further training.
In addition, the company gave assistance to the injured worker, he said.
"They have acknowledged they are ultimately responsible for safety issues in the workplace," Mr Parker said.
He said the maximum penalty for the charge was $1.5 million, which showed the seriousness of the offence.
However the fine was much less.
But Mr Parker said a fine of $40,000 was appropriate given the company's good standing in the business community.
No conviction was recorded.