Prosecutions

Guarding failure leads to severed thumb
K & S Pallets Pty Ltd is a Shepparton East manufacturer of timber pallet. The manufacturing process includes cutting timber lengths to size using an up-stroking cross cut saw with infeed and outfeed guards attached. On 29 August 2017 worker had his left thumb severed when he was using the saw. He had reached into the saw's outfeed to clear a blockage and made contact with the blade. The incident was not notified immediately to WorkSafe, but was notified the following day. A WorkSafe inspector observed the site had been disturbed. The outfeed guard was attached however at its maximum length the guard provided 700 millimetres of distance between the operator and the saw's cutting implement. The relevant Australian Standard requires that the minimum reach distance to the hazardous area should be at least 850 millimetres. The saw was de-commissioned post-incident.

K & S Pallets pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that guarding designed for that purpose prevented access to the danger area of the plant, and was, without conviction, fined $10,000 plus $4,115 in costs.

Worker seriously injured: $35k fine, no conviction 
Spurtop Pty Ltd (trading as Gravity Demolition) a residential demolition company, was engaged to demolish and clear a building in Blackburn (the workplace) in June 2017.

The site was being cleared by an excavator after demolition, while a labourer was assisting to remove rock and other material. At one point the excavator was being reversed when it reversed onto the labourer's left leg resulting in serious injury.

The offender pleaded guilty to a rolled up charge containing three breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017:

  • failing to eliminate or reduce the risk of powered mobile plant colliding with pedestrians;
  • failing to ensure a warning beacon and operational reversing beeper were fitted to the excavator; and
  • failing to ensure a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) was prepared prior to the work commencing.

The company had a daily checklist for the excavator operator to complete and a maintenance regime in place for the excavator which had been serviced two days before the incident. It had also developed a SWMS setting out an exclusion zone for pedestrians around mobile plant - but at the time of the incident it was not being followed and it was not available at the workplace.

Spurtop was without conviction fined of $35,000 plus $3,500 in costs.

Hand caught in juicing machine  
Dat Ly, a bubble tea/cafe business in the Springvale area has been fined $12,000 (plus $3,390 costs) without conviction over an incident in October 2017. A worker' sustained serious injuries to her left hand when it was crushed in the rollers of an insufficiently guarded sugarcane juicing machine. 

To check all of the recent prosecutions, go to the WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.

UK: Serial offender Veolia convicted over worker death
Garbage collection company Veolia (which also operates in Australia) has been convicted of a criminal safety offence and fined £1m (A$1.81m) after a worker was run over and killed. On 18 October 2013, the Veolia ES (UK) Limited employee suffered fatal injuries when he was run over by a reversing refuse collection vehicle (RCV) as he was walking across the Ross Depot Waste Transfer Station yard. The 60-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation by the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that multiple vehicles, including RCVs and articulated lorries, were manoeuvring around the yard with no specific controls. The company failed to adequately assess the risks involved in the yard and did not implement industry recognised control measures to protect employees. Veolia ES (UK) Limited was found guilty after a trial of a criminal safety offence, fined and ordered to pay costs.

HSE inspector Kevin Golding said: "This should be a reminder to all industries, but in particular, the waste industry, to appropriately assess the risks and implement widely recognised control measures to adequately control manoeuvring vehicles, in particular reversing vehicles and restrict pedestrian movements around vehicles." In October 2010, Veolia ES was fined £225,000 (A$407,100) after a worker was killed in a vehicle collision while collecting litter from a busy road. In February 2010, Veolia was fined £130,000 (A$235,210) for another workplace death. Read more: HSE news release. Source: Risks 883

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