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RM Williams fined over worker's injury

AAP logoAAP 31/08/2016

Iconic Australian boot and clothing manufacturer RM Williams has been fined $90,000 over an injury to a worker who suffered third degree burns.

Sharon Vargas was operating a machine designed to press the toes of boots into the desired shape at the company's Adelaide plant in June last year when her hands became trapped.

She spent 10 days in hospital undergoing skin grafts and continues to have no feeling in her left hand and only some feeling in the fingers of her right hand.

The company pleaded guilty in the South Australian Industrial Court to one count of failing to comply with health and safety laws.

In submissions, management said it was unaware of a "shortcut" staff were using on the hot press machine when working with small size boots which involved placing their hands inside.

In his judgement Magistrate Michael Ardlie said training on the press should have been more formalised with an emphasis on safety and should not have included the shortcut technique.

He said the safety procedures in place were also insufficient to safeguard against employees deviating from what management assumed they were doing - operating the machine in a safe way.

But the magistrate said there was not a complete absence of safety measures and training and the company had since moved to install safety guards which meant a similar incident was unlikely to occur again.

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