SKM Pty Ltd convicted and fined total of $165k for multiple contraventions
SKM Services Pty Ltd is a company providing recycling sorting services to councils around Victoria. It has sorting facilities in Coolaroo, Mornington and Laverton North. Last week the company was convicted and fined over multiple contraventions committed in two separate incidents. The company pleased guilty in both incidents.
Incident 1: Convicted and fined $65,000 Aggregate costs: $18,000 (for both cases)
On 2 November 2017, an SKM employee was doing on a 'Spaleck' separator/conveyor at the Laverton North workplace. The machine was greater than 2 metres in height, with components including a conveyor and a vibrating grid, and surrounded by perimeter guarding. However, there was no fall protection risk controls for work performed at two metres or more. The worker needed to access the conveyor belt which was at over two metres.
He had forgotten to turn off the isolation switch – and after about 30 minutes he heard an alarm indicating that the machine was ready to be operated. He grabbed his tools and tried to get out of the Spaleck, at which point the conveyor started up. The worker was dragged sideways up the conveyor and his right hip was forced against the steel beam.
Another worker heard screaming, yelled for the machine to be stopped and looked for an emergency stop button, which he could not find. The Spaleck was eventually stopped.
The man suffered four fractures to his pelvis, a fracture of the left acetabulum and damage to the right hip joint. He was unable to work for approximately four months.
An inspection revealed a number of problems, including badly placed isolation switches, lack of emergency stops near the machine, gaps in the guarding – some of the problems remained when the company reconfigured the machine.
Incident 2: Convicted and fined $50,000
At one of the workplaces there was a paper sorting line, consisting of a conveyor on a work platform, 2.9 metres off the ground. The footbridge over the conveyor belt 1.2 metres above the work platform. The railings running around the work platform had a top-rung height of about 1 metre from the floor of the work platform. Approximately four employees worked on each side of the conveyor, manually sorting paper.
At about 6pm on 26 April 2018, WorkSafe was notified of an incident of an employee falling from height. She had been working on the paper sorting line and had fallen approximately 2.9 metres to the ground below, and was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with a serious head injury.
A WorkSafe Inspector observed that the footbridge was accessible by twin-style rung-type ladders on each end, and that there was no fall protection adjacent to the ladders and that the ladders did not have a 'D' shaped handrail at the top of the stiles to assist with access and egress to/from the footbridge.
The inspector issued a Prohibition Notice (and also an Improvement Notice) on the ladders and the risk of a fall from height for workers accessing and egressing the footbridge.
To find out whether there are any new prosecutions before next week, check WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.