SafeWork inspectors across Sydney to target manufacturers and machine safety

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Image credit: SafeWork NSW

SafeWork NSW inspectors will be patrolling metropolitan Sydney this week to look for hazards linked with moving plants and machinery, which are common in workshops, warehouses, and manufacturing plants.

In a media release, SafeWork NSW revealed that nearly 10 per cent of workplace fatalities occur in the manufacturing sector, and seven per cent of all workplace fatalities in 2021 will be related to being trapped by moving machinery.

In particular, the most prevalent causes of death or serious injury while operating machinery include clearing a blockage or jam while the machine is still running and cleaning or servicing a machine without sufficient protection or lock-out tag-out procedures.

According to SafeWork NSW, young and inexperienced workers are more vulnerable near unfamiliar machinery, and SafeWork Inspectors will be speaking with businesses about properly training their staff and ensuring adequate supervision.

Matt Press, SafeWork NSW Executive Director of Compliance and Dispute Resolution, said SafeWork has distributed 58,000 letters with advice to firms in Sydney that have been identified as using machinery.

According to him, business owners should be aware that we are approaching and that there will be no justifications for endangering the lives of employees.

“Business owners should know that we are coming and there will be no excuses for putting workers lives at risk,” Press noted.

He added, “No worker should be assigned to a machine until they have been trained in the operating procedures for setting-up, operating, cleaning and maintenance. Machines can be dangerous if not handled properly and there is no room for shortcuts.”

Press also revealed that over 540 workplace incidents concerning machine safety have been addressed by SafeWork NSW since 2019. 

As a result of high-risk work, inspectors will proactively target workplace dangers and collaborate with employers and employees to increase safety.

To date, a number of recent events involving machinery are being looked at by SafeWork NSW, including one that happened on 27 June at a warehouse in Minchinbury and left one worker dead and two others hurt. 

The manufacturing sector’s concerns are the focus of SafeWork NSW’s legislative priorities for 2023, which include address risks associated with moving equipment like forklifts, exposure to hazardous materials, and falls. 

Businesses that endanger the lives of their employees may face immediate fines of up to $3,600 and individual penalties of $720.

SafeWork NSW also stated they may face legal action that might result in tens of thousands of dollars in court-ordered penalties.