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Prosecution Details

Defendant Price Trandos Engineering Pty Ltd
Section 19(1) and 19(7)
Offence Date Monday, 6 January 2003
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed to provide and maintain, so far as practicable, a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards; and by that failure caused serious harm to an employee; contrary to sections 19(1) and 19(7) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The accused is a manufacturer of electrical switchboards and similar products. In January 2003 the accused employed approximately 10 persons to work in its workshop at Malaga, including a 17 year old trades assistant.

Located at the workplace was a Woodman TS-222 12 inch tilting arbor table saw that was fitted with a combination top guard/extraction hood that could be manually raised or lowered over the blade of the table saw. The saw was available to the accused's employees for use in the course of their workplace duties including the cutting of Bakelite.

On 6 January 2003 the 17 year old trades assistant was working on attaching panels to a switchboard and needed to cut a piece of Bakelite to make a spacer to mark out the placement of the panels. He needed to cut a piece of Bakelite to approximately 50mm wide. Taking a piece of Bakelite approximately twice as wide as he needed he turned the saw on and pushed the piece of Bakelite towards the blade of the saw with his right hand and reached around behind the blade with his left hand to retrieve the cut piece of Bakelite. On the first cut the piece ended up slightly larger than 50mm so he repeated the procedure to cut the piece again. As he reached behind the blade to retrieve the piece of Bakelite after this second cut his left hand came into contact with the unguarded blade of the saw.

His left index finger was partially amputated through the lower knuckle, the left middle finger lacerated in two places, the left ring finger lacerated in one place (both of those lacerations involving the tendons of the fingers), the left little finger received a small laceration and the left thumb was lacerated to the bone through the pad of the thumb. He underwent surgery to reattach the left index finger, repair tendons of the left middle and ring fingers and suturing of the lacerations.

Prior to 6 January 2003 the trades assistant had been employed by the accused for approximately 2 months. He had never been told that he was not to use the saw in the course of his work. He had seen some other employees use the saw to cut pieces of Bakelite but had not received specific instructions or training on how to use the saw safely. He had observed other employees using the saw without using a push stick to push pieces of Bakelite towards the blade of the saw. He had not seen anyone lower the guard down lower than approximately 25 - 30 cm above the blade of the saw. He had seen the employees who used the saw reach around behind the blade of the saw while standing in front of the saw to retrieve pieces of Bakelite that had been cut using the saw.

At all relevant times there was no dedicated push stick allocated for use when cutting pieces of Bakelite with the saw. If an employee wished to use a push stick he had to locate a piece of scrap to use as a push stick. There was no signage or warning located on or near the saw reminding employees of safe methods of using the saw.

The accused pleaded guilty.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 23 Mar 2006
Court Midland Magistrates Court
Fine $40,000
Costs $1,300.70
Charge Number 8284/05