Recycler convicted and fined $150,000 after worker loses hand

A recycling company in Victoria has recently been fined a total of $150,000 following an incident in Coolaroo in 2014, where a worker lost his right hand in an aluminium bailer.


SKM Services were found guilty on two charges of failing to provide or maintain a plant that was safe and without risk to health and of failing to provide a safe system of work.


The court was told the worker was moving a bale of cans from the exit point of an aluminium-bailing machine when his right hand was severed. A co-worker heard the victim’s cries and subsequently located the hand in the chamber of the bailer.


Following the incident, WorkSafe Victoria launched an investigation into operations at the company and found a steel can-bailing machine on the site also posed similar risks to employees and the company had no safe work system for employees to secure the metal blocks once they had been ejected from either bailer.


During the hearing, SKM Services argued that it had discharged its health and safety duties by ensuring the manufacturer of the bailing machines had the appropriate assurance certificates and assessments in place.


WorkSafe’s Victoria’s executive director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said employers should never rely on others to ensure the safety of their workers.


“Employers must do whatever they can to ensure the safety of their workers,” Williams said.


“To abrogate their responsibility to others is a clear failure and, as this case has shown, risks severe consequences and penalties. A worker who expected to get home safely at the end of the day has been maimed for life.”


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