How much are three fingers worth?

By guest blogger, David Wilks

Altering a manufacturer's design without regard to safety is an accident waiting to happen.

Altering a manufacturer’s design without regard to safety is an accident waiting to happen.

In a surprising decision, the Noosa Magistrates court has failed to impose a penalty on an employer who modified machinery such that the modification led to injury! The case involved the modification of a wood splitting machine, designed to be operated with two hands, in such a way that it could be operated by one hand. The tragic outcome was that a young worker lost three fingers when the cutting mechanism descended on the hand that should, by design, have been operating the control lever.

“This plant was mobile and hydraulic powered, designed and manufactured for two handed operation, using two lever controls to be pushed simultaneously. The defendant modified this plant by bolting both levers together enabling one handed operation. The worker using the modified plant activated the lever causing the wood splitter to operate in the downward stroke onto the workers right hand, amputating three fingers.”

The employer was warned that a second infringement would incur a $15,000 penalty and was ordered to pay court and professional costs of $1,079. The way I see it, that’s $360 per finger and a rap over the knuckles!

What do you think?

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of AusWide WHS Services.



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