A MANDURAH steel fabricating and manufacturing business was fined $25,000 over an accident in which 16-year-old work experience student had three fingers partially amputated.

Transcoat Engineering, or Tropical Bay Pty Ltd, pleaded yesterday guilty to failing to ensure the safety of a non-employee and, by that failure, causing serious harm in the Mandurah Magistrate’s Court.

The then 16-year-old student from Pinjarra High School was undertaking work experience in July 2008 at the company when his left hand was crushed by the clamps of a Hydracut guillotine when parts of three of the student’s fingers were amputated.

The student had been directed to cut 50 metal strips on the guillotine and was instructed on how to mark the steel strip, place it in the guillotine, hold it with both hands and operate the guillotine by pressing a foot pedal.

The student had cut 47 strips without incident before the horrific accident occurred when the right side of a strip became stuck and, after trying to push it through, the student lost his balance and pressed the foot pedal.

This had followed a demonstration by a Transcoat Engineering employee of about four strips being cut and the supervision of about ten strips cut by the student.

The student was then left alone and checked on from time to time.

Worksafe WA Commisioner Lex Mculloch said the case was a reminder of the importance of guarding machinery.

“This is a tragic example of machinery not being adequately guarded and a young student suffering a permanent injury as a consequence,” Mr McCulloch said.

“Anyone in control of a workplace containing machinery with hazardous moving parts needs to ensure that those moving parts are safely guarded.”

He said guarding of machinery parts was one of the easiest and most obvious ways of minimising risk of injury.

“After this incident, the employer fitted the guillotine with a guard that would have prevented this incident if it had been fitted earlier,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it was all too late for the young man who suffered this serious injury.”