Home > WorkSafe Victoria targets dangerous machines: What can you do to ensure employees are protected?

WorkSafe Victoria targets dangerous machines: What can you do to ensure employees are protected?

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article image An example of CPR Safe's machinery guarding for industrial workplaces
Two Victorian businesses recently received fines totalling $35,000 after a contractor had his thumb crushed in an unguarded machine. These prosecutions come as WorkSafe Victoria begins a 12 month campaign targeting dangerous machines in the workplace.

Commenting on the new campaign, WorkSafe Victoria Regional Director Shane Gillard urged businesses to revisit safety practices around machinery, noting that removing guarding from a machine (as happened in the above case) was a recipe for disaster.

"Guarding is there to protect workers from being seriously hurt or killed, yet we frequently come across incidents where someone has suffered a serious injury that could easily be prevented," he said.

As part of their obligation to protect the health and safety of workers, employers need to ensure that appropriate machine guards are provided. These guards need not be elaborate, but importantly they should not interfere with the practical use of the machine in question.

WorkSafe recommends that employers who manage, maintain or own machinery ensure that:
  • all moving parts that can be reached with any part of the body, deliberately or otherwise, are protected by a physical barrier or guard
  • all staff, especially those unfamiliar with the machinery, are trained and carefully supervised; and
  • machinery is only used as recommended by the manufacturer.
South Australian company CPR Safe - Ind has many years of experience manufacturing machine safety guards, and is conscious of the need to also ensure that any machine guarding complies with all relevant Australian and International Safety Standards.

In particular, the company has been working with various State Education Departments, as well as private schools for many years to help bring technology studies workshop machinery up to the current Australian Safety Standards.

Experience provided by these initiatives has led to CPR Safe developing cost effective machine guarding that still allows for the practical use of machinery.

While machine guarding provides a physical barrier between workers and dangerous machinery, this is not the only safety concern when dealing with large scale industrial machinery.

Safety command devices from sensor manufacturer SICK can provide an additional level of protection here, as they allow dangerous movements to be stopped, and machine functions to be started safely.

Where collision protection is required, SICK also manufactures a range of sensors, scanners and laser measurement systems that can help terminal operators to considerably reduce the probability of collisions between cranes, vehicles and goods.

These products are all designed to reduce the risk of injury for workers operating dangerous machinery, but as WorkSafe Victoria notes, the first step in this process is to evaluate the risks associated with the operation of each piece of machinery and identify the potential for injury.

As with the businesses recently prosecuted, this is a process the organisation recommends all employers undertake before it is too late.

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