Tyre Recycler Fined $80,000 After Teenage Worker Is Left Permanently Disabled In Workplace Accident

Published October 25, 2019 (last updated July 22, 2020) Author: Nicholas Hartman

A tyre-recycling factory in an outer-eastern suburb of Melbourne has been fined $80,000 after a young worker’s arm was dragged onto a conveyer belt and crushed by an unguarded tyre shredder.

The operator pleaded guilty at the Dandenong Magistrates Court last Thursday “to a single charge alleging three breaches of failing to provide a working environment that was, so far as is reasonably practice, safe and without risks to health”, according to WorkSafe Victoria.

The Dandenong South-based company, Tyre Recycling Australia Pty Ltd, was also ordered to pay $4127 in costs.

“This worker has been left with permanent injuries that could have been avoided if appropriate guarding or training had been in place.

“This incident will also have a life-long impact on this young family and is a tragic reminder of why employers must ensure the safety of their workers is always their first priority,” WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said.

The 18-year-old man, who is also a father of three young children, had only been working at the tyre recycling facility for less than a week in August 2018 before the incident occurred.

The night of the incident he attempted to clear one of the jammed machines by hand which had blocked for a second time.

The worker reached out, without turning the system off, to sweep away pieces of tyre when his glove was caught, dragging his arm into the machine.

He suffered severe damage to his right arm as well as his forearm, had to take skin grafts from his leg, and spent more than three months in hospital undergoing reconstructive surgery.

The court heard that at best, he will recover 30 per cent of movement in his arm.

The machine had been running for over a month without adequate barriers and guarding, a Work Safe inspector told the court, and that training for young workers was unsatisfactory.

The inspector also noted that the appropriate safety measures were inexpensive and readily available to reduce the risk.

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