Wednesday 17 October 2012

Dangerous machines endanger lives - act now before it's too late

WorkSafe statistics reveal almost 450 body parts have been amputated from Victorian workers by common types of machinery used in Victorian workplaces over the last five years.

The amputations, together with cuts, crushing and other injuries to nearly 11,000 workers have led to a $220 million bill for medical treatment, rehabilitation and income support during the same period.

More than half of these injuries came out of workplaces in Victoria’s traditional manufacturing and logistics corridor around greater Melbourne - from Geelong to Dandenong. These injuries were caused by machines that cut, mix or convey materials and common power tools.

A recent spate of prosecutions and serious injuries involving dangerous machines has prompted a WorkSafe call for businesses to do all they can to make machines safer and help reduce the number of injuries.


In the last four years almost $2-million in fines have been imposed on employers following WorkSafe prosecutions relating to unguarded and unsafe machines.

“There’s still too many workers being hurt by common types of machines”, WorkSafe’s Health and Safety Operations General Manager, Lisa Sturzenegger said.

“If we’re going to keep Victoria the safest place to work, employers have to do more to control dangerous machines.”

“We know they’re essential to many businesses, but they can be dangerous and must be controlled.”

“The risks dangerous machines pose are well known, with cheap and effective solutions freely available.”

WorkSafe’s statistics reveal of the nearly 11,000 injuries related to dangerous machines in the last five years:

  • 71% (7733) occurred in manufacturing, construction, transport, warehousing and storage industries;
  • 27% (2952) involved cuts and lacerations to the body
  • 32% (3453) involved workers’ hands and fingers
  • 441 body parts were amputated, with 98% (433) of all amputations involving hands and fingers being torn off the body

The Assistant Treasurer, Gordon Rich-Phillips, said it was a timely reminder to check workplace machinery.

"Taking the time to make sure machines are safe can prevent injuries and the pain they cause people and businesses," he said.

"While Victoria's workplaces are the safest they've ever been, safety must be top of mind every day."

Over the next 12 months, WorkSafe inspectors will be upping the ante on employers to control dangerous machines by ensuring they are properly guarded, have emergency controls in place and train and supervise their workers properly.

Inspectors will be issuing safety improvement notices to companies to ensure risks are controlled.

“It’s not just Victorian employers who are covering the cost through their workers’ compensation premiums but also the injured people, their families and the wider community,” Ms Sturzenegger said.

“Many injuries caused by unsafe machines are debilitating, long lasting and often permanent.”

“Employers must get on the front foot by taking a preventative approach to identifying and controlling the risk of dangerous machines at their workplace. Workers need to ask questions and not take anything for granted.”

We’ve got plenty of advice and guidance for employers on how they can control their dangerous machines and keep their workplace safe, so really there’s no excuse,” said Ms Sturzenegger.

To find out more about how to make machines safe, visit

To make machines safe, ensure:

  • The machinery is not broken and has all the appropriate parts
  • A person could not be injured using or maintaining the machine
  • The machinery is properly guarded and safety interlocks are regularly checked before operating
  • People do not operate the machinery without the guarding attached
  • Production schedules allow for safe operation
  • Operator controls are easily accessible and clearly labelled. Warning lights and sounds are working
  • Energy supplies and services such as power, water and air are physically isolated before any maintenance is done
  • Energy stored in the machines such as spring tension, gravity or hydraulic pressure is released before maintenance is done
  • Workers are provided with regular information about the hazards associated with machinery and how to operate them safely
  • Workers can identify when the machinery is not safe to use
  • Supervisors regularly check to see workers are operating/cleaning the machine the right way
  • Untrained workers are not allowed to operate or maintain machinery

Map of pain

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: For more information or to request high resolution copies of images, contact Rosanna Bonaccurso 0478 305 640, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.