machine safety

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In September 2018, an incident occurred at a health supplement manufacturing facility in Dandenong South in VIC, where a worker’s hand was crushed in a series of rollers of a press machine. The worker was taken to the hospital immediately with lacerations and crush injuries. The company was taken to court where they pleaded guilty and was issued with a $40,000 fine.

More on this story here.


To define machine safety is to understand the limitations of the machine. Lack of controls such as inadequate training, insufficient preventative maintenance, inadequate guarding and no risk assessment can cause serious injury or death. Depending on the type of machine being used there could be a  chance of body parts being entangled, nipped, crushed, burned or amputated due to a lack of machine safety.

To prevent any harm to workers or operators there are some approaches to be taken. The one that is well known is the risk management approach.


Between 2008 and 2013, death related statistic in manufacturing were 107 workers with an astonishing 87,285 serious injuries. A quarter of the causes that incidents occur are for being trapped by moving machinery.


> Hierarchy of Controls

A plant & equipment risk assessment should be considered prior to any use of newly acquired machinery, even if a manufacturer has provided their own. As the machine is being used within your brewery or facility, it is important that the machine has been assessed and then modified using the Hierarchy of Controls to eliminate or as a minimum engineered to ensure no harm is caused to the operator or other workers.

Let’s consider a scenario where a machine requires all these controls to be implemented:

As you can see, there are a number of controls that can be implemented across the hierarchy. In the real world, engineering controls (isolation) or substitution, will always be more effective than administrative controls such as training. 

As you can see, PPE is the least effective method of control. PPE is used to limit the exposure to hazards.

Engineering controls are used to reduce the hazard present in the working environment, normally by isolating the workers from the hazard. This could involve designing or installing safeguards to separate workers from machinery. Some example of some safeguards include:

·       E-stops (but should not be the only control in-place and periodically check for functionality)

·       Warning devices (i.e. lights, motion sensors, audible alarms, horns, physical displays of temperature, etc.)

·       Physical guarding (i.e. permanent, interlocked, fixed, presence sensing, pressure-sensitive flooring, etc.)

> Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance, design and machine safety all go hand in hand. Preventative maintenance is conducted to ensure the safety systems installed on the equipment are maintained to the appropriate standard.  Preventative maintenance systems need to ensure the safety systems will be effective when called upon.

> Lock-Out Tag-Out

As part of maintaining machinery, it is essential to have a Lock-Out Tag-Out (LOTO) procedure. LOTO is a safety practice to ensure de-energisation of electrical equipment and ensuring no one is injured accidentally by turning on the machine whilst workers are conducting maintenance. The LOTO system may utilise a specialised lock for locking out the system and tag to keep others in the business aware of how and why the machine is tagged out.

Deeper Understanding

So how do we prevent an incident occurring with machinery:

Conduct a Plant & Equipment Risk Assessment.

A code of practice is also available: at the Safe Work Australia website.

Contact us for further information or advice on machine safety processes for your team and to obtain a free plant and risk assessment template.

Furthermore, Victual can conduct a Plant Risk Assessment on machinery within your facility or provide guidance on the risk management process.


Figure 1: infographics from Safe Work Australia