Prosecutions

Meat processor fined $90 after amputation

JBS Australia Pty Ltd, a meat processing company, has been convicted and fined $90,000 after a worker’s hand was severed at its Brooklyn plant. The company pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court to a single charge of failing, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide a safe working environment that was without risk to health.

The worker had been working on a production line to remove hides from sheep carcasses that had been missed by the ‘primary hide puller’. A chain he had wrapped around his wrist became entangled with the back-up hide puller: he was dragged in resulting in the amputation of his left wrist and hand.

Just before the incident the primary hide puller had missed a number of carcasses and there were hectic scenes as workers quickly attached chains or straps to the backup hide puller, while leaving the machine running. According to the injured worker this was common practice when it was busy.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for allowing workers to take unnecessary risks by using unsafe machinery or not powering down machinery when necessary. "This worker suffered an horrific, life changing injury while operating hazardous machinery because a safe system of work was not in place," Ms Nielsen said.
Read more: WorkSafe media release

Amusement company fined $10,000 after child injured

Action Events Group Pty Ltd, an events and amusement ride hire company, provided three amusement rides to the Philip Island Superbikes event, 23 – 25 February 2018, one of which was known as the Chair-O-Plane. The ride is similar to a merry go round, and carries up to 20 riders between the ages of 3 and 10. Each child sits in an individual chair facing outwards that rotates around a central point. As the chairs rotate, they swing outwards. Each chair is attached by wire cables to a T-bar that is then attached to a spreader bar by way of a castellated nut and split pin.

On the morning of 25 February an eight year old child was injured when the T-bar detached from the spreader bar and the child’s chair was thrown from the ride.

Action Events failed, so far as was reasonably practicable, to reduce or eliminate the risk of someone being hurt by not undertaking a daily inspection to check the correct installation of the castellated nut and split pin; and not providing operators of ride with information, training and instruction such as was necessary to enable them to identify the correct installation of the castellated nut and split pin.

The offender pleaded guilty and was without conviction sentenced to pay a fine of $10,000 plus $4,842 in costs.

Construction company fined $20k after fall

In July 2017 Construction firm C&M Commercial Holdings Pty Ltd was engaged to undertake roofing works at a number of factories in Carrum Downs.

On 13 July an employee roof plumber was installing a suspended drain from a mezzanine level which he accessed via an unfixed ladder. He started chalking up the fall line for the gutter but then went to get the ladder to bring it up onto the mezzanine, as he could not reach where he needed to work. The last thing he recalls was pulling the ladder up towards him. He fell 2.8 metres off the edge of the mezzanine level to the concrete ground below. The mezzanine edges were unprotected and there was no other fall protection in place.

The worker sustained serious injuries including a broken wrist, cheekbone and fractured skull. He suffered bleeding on the brain, damage to his inner ear and memory loss.

The company failed to provide a safe system of work and failed to install fall protection (eg a mobile scaffold and hand railing).

The Frankston Magistrates Court imposed a fine of $20,000 (plus $4,842 in costs) without conviction.

Company fined $30k after workers crushed

Industrial Laser Services is a company providing and servicing industrial laser equipment including the unloading of equipment from shipping containers and installing it at its customer's workplaces.

On February 26 2018, laser equipment packed in large crates was being unloaded from a shipping container with a forklift at a customer’s workplace. The crate, approximately 2 metres high, 8 metres wide and 3 metres deep, weighed about 250 kilograms. The crate toppled onto an employee, who suffered a broken vertebrae in his spine, and small cuts. He was in hospital for one month before commencing rehabilitation.

The company failed to provide and maintain a working environment that was safe and without risks to health in that there were safety measures that would have reduced the risk of a crate toppling whilst being unloaded. It pleaded guilty and was without conviction fined $30,000 plus costs of $4,217.

Rare asbestos prosecution

An Australian manufacturer and supplier of cryogenic vessels, storage and transport tanks, CEM International Pty Ltd engaged a subsidiary company based in China, to supply it with several large vessels for the use in the manufacture of road tankers. Each vessel had several outlets with manway covers bolted on and sealed with a gasket.

On 3 April 2018 a worker was directed to remove the gaskets. When a scraper proved ineffective, he used a wire grinder wheel attached to an angle grinder to grind them off. This worked well and reduced the gasket to dust. Although he wore a dust mask, he became concerned and asked the Deputy Health and Safety Representative ('DHSR'), who was walking past, what the material was. The DHSR could not identify the material and work was immediately stopped. Testing revealed that the gaskets contained chrysotile (White Asbestos). It was later confirmed that the gaskets were 'Asbestos Rubber Gaskets' certified as containing 70% asbestos.

CEM International then engaged a suitably qualified asbestos removal company to conduct further testing and remove all remaining asbestos at the workplace. Later testing, conducted two days after the incident, did not detect any airborne asbestos.

It has been illegal to import and use asbestos since 2003 yet the company did not ensure there was an asbestos free requirement in any supply contract or agreement with the vessels. Nor were analysis reports were obtained confirming asbestos was not present. 

CEM International pleaded guilty and was with conviction sentenced to pay a fine of just $10,000 and to pay costs of $3,592. 

To check for updates go to the WorkSafe Victoria Prosecutions Result Summaries page. 

 

 

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