Crushed thumb highlights the importance of ladders

A crushed thumb has highlighted the value of worker safety.

A crushed thumb has highlighted the value of worker safety.

A recent incident in Western Australia has highlighted the risk factories face if they do not provide adequate equipment for staff handling heavy machinery.

The managers of a vegetable processing plant outside of Perth have recently been fined $33,000 for failing to ensure the safety of workers, following an incident in which a worker had their thumb crushed by machinery.

The injury occurred around a carrot hopping machine, used for the grading and packing of carrots. The machinery’s operator, who had been employed by the company for 20 years, was unable to reach the control panel for the device’s bin tipper.

As her employer had not provided adequate ladders or steps to reach the control panel, the worker was forced to climb the machinery itself in order to operate the control panel. In 2011, while climbing the machine, the device’s bin cradle lowered and crushed the woman’s thumb.

The woman’s thumb has since been surgically repaired, although she will never regain full functionality. The employee was unable to return to work for nearly two years.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch suggested that the subsequent changes to the factory should have happened before this accident occurred.

“In total, these changes cost the employer a couple of thousand dollars. If they had been made earlier, this incident would not have occurred and the employee involved would have been spared a great deal of suffering and a permanent injury, said Mr McCulloch.

“Guarding of the dangerous moving parts of machinery is such a basic and easy precaution to take, and it really is time for employers to take a good hard look at the guarding situation and stop exposing employees to the risk of injury.”

If your workers often handle dangerous equipment it is important to make sure they can do so safely, in order to avoid these sorts of events. Investing in ladders, quik steps and safety signage is an easy way to keep your employees safe around heavy machinery.