Cement worker left with amputated finger

A man has lost use of his left hand during an incident where his fingers were caught by rotating blades whilst mixing cement, leaving an Adelaide foundry more than $20,000 in fines from the Industrial Court.

The company Intercast and Forge, received its penalty after earlier pleading guilty to breaching section 19(1) of the Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986, in failing to maintain plant in a safe condition and failing to provide safe systems of work.

SafeWork SA prosecuted after investigating an incident at the company’s Wingfield premises in June 2008.

A 50-year-old man at the time was engaged in mixing cement using a machine called a paddle mixer.

As he attempted to remove some material from the open rear hatch, his fingers were caught by the rotating blades.

According to WorkSafe SA, the court was told the man suffered an amputation of part of the little finger of his left hand, severe laceration of the ring finger, and ligament and tendon damage to his wrist.

SafeWork SA’s investigation established that the guard which could have prevented the injury had been removed during maintenance some time earlier, but was not replaced when the machine was returned to service.

It was reported that counsel for the agency also submitted that the safe operating procedures for the machine at the time were insufficient.

Industrial Magistrate Michael Ardlie said the incident arose through inadvertence and “inadequate” safe operating procedures that “were not adhered to”.

SafeWork SA said the case emphasises the need to ensure that safety checks cover contingencies such as new machinery, new work processes, and recommissioning after maintenance.

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