Timber factory fined after injury to worker

The company that operated a former Euroa timber factory has been fined $40,000 after a worker was injured.

Blue Collar Workforce Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court to failing to provide and maintain a plant that was safe and without risks to health in relation to the docking saws at the workplace, as well as failing to provide information, instructions and training to employees as was necessary to enable its employees to work safely and without risks when using the docking saw.

Victorian Workcover Authority prosecutor Morgan Brown said a then 48-year-old man was injured in May 2019 while working as a contractor at Euroa timber processing factory Hume Timbers, which was operated by Blue Collar Workforce Pty Ltd.

Doo Ham Um, also known as John Um, was injured while working on the Isis upstroke docking saw when he was trying to remove sawdust from below the saw blade.

Ms Brown said there were no guards in place to prevent him from attempting to clear around the saw blade while it was still rotating.

He was wearing gloves at the time when his hand was cut and told investigators he had not been told not to wear them.

Mr Um was taken to the general practitioner in Euroa with a hand injury before being taken to Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton in an ambulance.

He then drove himself to Melbourne for surgery the next day, but had regained full use of his hand since then.

The court heard when Mr Um started work at the business just over one month earlier he did not receive any occupational health and safety information or any specific induction or occupational health and safety training in relation to the upstroke docking saw.

Instead, the machinery was explained to him for “about an hour” on the day he started work and this focused more on the different types of wood and did not mention the safety of the machines.

The court was told that eight months before Mr Um’s accident, another worker was also injured while using a saw at the workplace.

However, no charges were laid over this incident.

Fun Shing Wong, who was aged 55 at the time, caught his hand in the plate on the Sheng Feng docking saw when he tried to realign a piece of timber.

No first aid was administered to Mr Wong at the business, instead a colleague drove him to Euroa hospital and he was later flown to The Alfred hospital with injuries to his right hand.

Ms Brown told the court improvement notices were given to the business after the 2018 incident to address the fact the two docking saws did not have front guards.

After the 2019 incident, Worksafe inspectors detailed more hazards of the two saws, but the two docking saws were decommissioned by the company after the second incident.

Defence counsel Matthew Minucci said the corporation acknowledged its wrongdoing, but said the offence was not one that rose “maliciously”, rather it was from “not properly supervising the operations”.

He said the company ceased operations in Euroa soon after the 2019 incident because it could not properly supervise them from Sydney where the company was based.

Mr Minucci also pointed out the company had no prior convictions and he said the operator of the company showed genuine contrition and remorse over the incidents and had sought external advice to ensure an incident of this kind does not happen again at the operation now in Sydney.

Magistrate Peter Mithen fined the company $40,000, but ordered that no conviction be recorded.

Blue Collar Workforce Pty Ltd was also ordered to pay $2505 in costs.

Source: Shepperton News

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