An employer was fined a total of $275,000 for a machine incident and failure to assess competency of its workers in safety procedures.

A worker employed by Visy Pty Ltd had his finger partially amputated in a cardboard box making machine when attempting to fix a jam by pushing a piece of cardboard into a feed gate, when both the cardboard and his hand was dragged into the machine by running rollers. The incident severed two segments of his middle finger and the top of his ring finger (read more here).

In November last year, the court found that even though Visy had a procedure with clear instructions requiring employees to completely stop the machine when clearing blockages, there was no evidence the worker had been trained in this procedure and assessed for competency.

What can we learn from this incident?

Two fundamental components of any safety system are:

  1. Safe Operating Procedures/Work Instructions for sets of tasks workers are required to follow; and
  2. Training and competency assessments in the procedures workers are required to follow.

These two requirements not only improve the safety of any business, but they also help the business run more efficiently by ensuring all workers perform the task in the same consistent manner.

Steps to follow

Here are the steps to follow to ensure that procedures and competency form part of your operations:

  1. Identify jobs in your organisation that could cause harm if not performed correctly;
  2. Document the step-by-step process on how to perform the tasks safely (taking photos or video of each step is a great way to do this); and
  3. Train workers in the Safe Operating Procedure/Work Instruction and capture this in a system that can trigger refresher training and extract records as proof of training.

We have developed hundreds of Safe Operating Procedures/Work Instructions for companies across Australia, and today prefer to use video-based work instructions. These can be accessed via QR codes on plant and equipment, that when scanned will play the video work instruction on any connected device

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