Machine safety compliance visits underway as Customer Service NSW officers investigate

SafeWork NSW Inspectors have begun visiting manufacturers throughout the Sydney metropolitan area to ensure machine safety, a leading cause of workplace fatalities and injuries in the sector.

SafeWork Executive Director Compliance and Dispute Resolution Matt Press said with the post COVID-19 rebirth of manufacturing in Australia, it was timely reminder to businesses to think about safety before they operate, maintain, and clean machinery.

“Operating machinery is a high-risk activity. Machines, especially those with moving parts, are a hazard to operators and other workers who can be caught in the machine, struck, or hit by ejected machine parts.

“Sadly, on 8 July this year, a man in his 20s was killed operating machinery at a recycling centre in Riverstone in a matter being investigated by SafeWork. 

“Sixty-five per cent of all injuries resulting in a major workers compensation claim involved machinery between 2017 and 2021, with data indicating that young, labour hire and culturally and linguistically diverse workers are at greater risk.

“SafeWork Inspectors will be not only ensuring compliance with safety regulations but educating business owners on what to do to protect vulnerable workers.

“Workplaces need to be ensuring machines cannot be restarted during cleaning and maintenance, that there is regularly monitoring and consulting with workers to ensure they know how to operate machines safely, and they are using appropriate safeguards. 

“SafeWork wants businesses to embed a culture of machine safety and will take appropriate regulatory action if unsafe work practices are identified,” Mr Press said.

The main reasons why people are killed or seriously injured when operating machines include:

  1. Removing a blockage or jam while the machine is still running,
  2. Cleaning or maintaining a machine without appropriate safeguards or lock out tag out procedures, and
  3. Workers unaware or not having a thorough understanding of operating procedures.

SafeWork’s machine safety pack is available here.

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