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Isolation switch causes man’s arm to be crushed by machinery

A production and export company in western Perth has been fined $20,000 for failing to provide a safe workplace after a worker’s hand was crushed in machinery after an isolation switch was left on during cleaning, according to a report from WorkSafe.

In October 2006, two Comgroup employees were engaged in cleaning a piece of machinery called a ‘Formax 26’ which has two plungers that need to be moved into various positions in order to be cleaned properly.

While one of the workers was scrubbing the plungers the machine started up, causing the plungers to move without warning, crushing the man’s right hand between the plungers and the body of the machine.

According to WorkSafe, the supervisor was on sick leave on the night of the incident, and the company did not arrange for another supervisor to take his place.

The isolation switch had been left in the ‘on’ position, and the key switch was not working properly and was seized in the ‘on’ position. This allowed the machine to be switched on and operated.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said today that the case was yet another reminder of the importance of having safe systems of work in place.

“This incident should serve as a reminder that lockout and tagging procedures are vitally important in any workplace where machinery is used,” Lyhne said.

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