WorkSafe is calling on workers and employers to do more to control dangerous machines after recent statistics revealed almost 450 body parts have been amputated from Victorian workers by common types of machinery used in Victorian workplaces over the last five years.
The amputations, together with other injuries to almost 11,000 workers have resulted to a $ 220 million bill for medical treatment, rehabilitation and income support during the same period.
More than fifty percent of these injuries came from Victoria’s traditional manufacturing and logistics corridor around greater Melbourne, from Geelong to Dandenong. These were caused by machines which mix, cut or convey materials as well as common power tools.
Almost $ 12 million in fines were imposed on employers over the last four years following WorkSafe prosecutions related to unsafe machines.
“There’s still too many workers being hurt by common types of machines,” says WorkSafe Health and Safety Operations General Manager, Lisa Sturzenegger.
“If we’re going to keep Victoria the safest place to work, employers have to do more to control dangerous machines.”
“We know they’re essential to many businesses, but they can be dangerous and must be controlled.”
“The risk dangerous machines pose are well known, with cheap and effective solutions freely available.”
According to WorkSafe statistics, almost 11,000 injuries related to dangerous machines recorded over the last five years:
- 71% (7773) occurred in manufacturing, construction, transport, warehousing and storage industries
- 27% (2592) involved cuts and lacerations to the body
- 32% (3453) involved workers’ hands and fingers
- 441 body parts were amputated, with 98% (433) of all amputations involving hands and fingers being torn off the body
Over the next 12 months, WorkSafe inspectors will conduct inspections and will issue safety improvement notices to companies to make sure risks are controlled.
“It’s not just Victorian employers who are covering the cost through their workers’ compensation premiums but also the injured people, their families and the wider community,” Ms Sturzenegger said.
“Many injuries caused by unsafe machines are debilitating, long lasting and often permanent.”
“Employers must get on the front foot by taking a preventative approach to identifying and controlling the risk of dangerous machines at their workplace. Workers need to ask questions and not take anything for granted.”
We’ve got plenty of advice and guidance for employers on how they can control their dangerous machines and keep their workplace safe, so really there’s no excuse,” said Ms Sturzenegger.
Assistant Treasurer, Gordon Rich-Phillips, said the results serve as reminder to ensure workplace safety.
“Taking the time to make sure machines are safe can prevent injuries and the pain they cause people and businesses,” he said.
“While Victoria’s workplaces are the safest they’ve ever been, safety must be top of mind every day.”
WorkSafe offers the following tips to make machines safer:
- The machinery is not broken and has all the appropriate parts
- A person could not be injured using or maintaining the machine
- The machinery is properly guarded and safety interlocks are regularly checked before operating
- People do not operate the machinery without the guarding attached
- Production schedules allow for safe operation
- Operator controls are easily accessible and clearly labelled. Warning lights and sounds are working
- Energy supplies and services such as power, water and air are physically isolated before any maintenance is done
- Energy stored in the machines such as spring tension, gravity or hydraulic pressure is released before maintenance is done
- Workers are provided with regular information about the hazards associated with machinery and how to operate them safely
- Workers can identify when the machinery is not safe to use
- Supervisors regularly check to see workers are operating/cleaning the machine the right way
- Untrained workers are not allowed to operate or maintain machinery