A Coffs Harbour manufacturing business has been fined $250,000 after a 17 year old work experience student was injured in August 2014.

Thermal Electric Elements Pty Ltd, located at Toormina near Coffs Harbour, received the fine following an incident in which a work experience student had the tips of two fingers crushed and amputated when his hand got caught in a brake press machine.

SafeWork NSW charged Thermal Electric Elements Pty Ltd with a breach of section 32/19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW). It was alleged the company, an electric heating elements and systems manufacturing business, failed to provide adequate guarding on the brake press machine.

The incident occurred while the work experience student was removing metal strips from the machine and inadvertently activated the machine’s knife.

SafeWork NSW’s investigation found the business had adjusted a setting on the machine’s guarding system that would have prevented the machine from operating when objects such as arms and hands were in the vicinity.

The investigation also found there was a general lack of instruction, training, information and supervision provided to the work experience student.

Thermal Electric Elements Pty Ltd was found guilty in the NSW District Court and fined $250,000.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy, said the fine was appropriate given the permanent injuries suffered by the young and vulnerable worker.

"Safety guarding is a very simple way to protect workers from being seriously injured or killed,” Mr Dunphy said.

“They stop body parts getting too close to moving machinery or stop the machine entirely if there is a potential emergency.

“Machinery should only be used according to manufacturer’s instructions; that includes keeping guards in place.

“This incident represents a major failure in work health and safety in relation to machine guarding.

“This has left a young worker with life-long injuries that may affect his future employment prospects.

“Setting the machine so that it operated while body parts were near the knife was an action that created significant health and safety risks to workers.

“This court decision sends a strong message to the business community of the need to protect young and vulnerable workers so that tragic incidents like this do not occur.”

For further information on machine guarding safety call 13 10 50.

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