MDF manufacturer fined over worker saw injury

Large board manufacturer Alpine MDF Industries has been fined $40,000 after an employee’s finger was cut by a radial arm saw.

The Wangaratta plant worker was pushing away off-cuts from the door jambs he had been making when his finer got caught in the saw. The worker received stitches for a deep cut to his finger.

According to WorkSafe, the incident was the result of an unsuitable guard on the saw which did not cover the blade.

Alpine MDF Industries was convicted of failing to provide a safe system of work and ordered to pay $4854 in compensation to the victim in December 2011.

The judge noted that the company did not have an operation manual or risk assessment for the saw and said that the fault was one which could have easily been fixed in 15 minutes by loosening some screws and widening a groove to allow the guard to drop down into place. 

The judge said this was a fairly significant oversight on the part of the company.

The saw was immediately replaced following the incident and the rest of the company’s equipment has been Sired as safe to use, the judge heard. 

The company had no prior convictions.

Alpine MDF Industries manufactures premium panels, primed mouldings and door components. The company directly employs approximately 100 staff in production, administration and marketing.

Alpine MDF Industries’ Wangaratta plant is located in the North East of Victoria.

Production processes [sourced: Alpine MDF Industries]

Delivery: Pulp logs are delivered to the company’s log yard by truck for the MDF process. The company receives approximately 280,000 tonnes of logs per year.

Debarking and chipping: Logs are unloaded from trucks to be processed at the chipmill. A rotary cranes feeds logs into a drum debarker. Directly after debarking the logs are fed through a disc chipper. Woodchips are stored in a chip bin prior to washing to remove stones and sand.

Fibre processing: Woodchips are heated with steam and separated into individual cellulose fibres using a disc refiner. After refining, resin and wax are mixed with the fibres in a steam blow line that conveys the fibre to the flash drier.

Pressing: The dried fibres are formed into mats and processed through presses. The use of continuous press technology has been a key factor in securing the high reputation and dominant market position of Alpine MDF.

Sanding: Staying at the forefront of technology continues to be part of the company ethos. Alpine MDF is finished in a Steinemann sander with eight sanding heads and two super finish polishing brushes which means Alpine MDF leads the industry in surface quality and finish.

Sawing: From the sander the board moves to the Anthon cut to size saw, where we cut a large range of market sizes including custom sizes for key customers.

Added value: A further processing facility converts panels into primed moulded products used as architraves and skirting boards in the building and furniture industry. We also produce primed door skins for door manufacturers in our state of the art flat panel paint line.

Image: Alpine MDF Industries

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