Tomato farm fined $30k for crushed arm

Tatura Fresh, a hydroponic tomato farm was this week convicted and fined $30,000 in the Shepparton Magistrates’ Court after a worker’s arm was crushed in unguarded machinery in January, 2019. The company had pleaded guilty to failing to provide or maintain a working environment that was safe and without risks to health.

A worker was operating a powered ‘leaf mat washer’ when his arm was caught in an unguarded winding mechanism, causing serious crush injuries and nerve damage. Tatura Fresh had imported the washer from overseas without ensuring it met Australian standards and had failed to ensure there was guarding around dangerous, powered areas and that there was a documented system of work for operating the machine. There was also no safety switch and the emergency stop control was not operational.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for failing to protect workers from the risk of unguarded machinery to cause severe and permanent injuries. “There is no room for complacency when it comes to dangerous, high risk hazards such as moving machinery,” Ms Nielsen said. “A worker has received serious and possibly life-long injuries from an incident that could easily have been prevented with proper guarding and a safe system of work that all employees were trained in implementing.” Read more: WorkSafe media release

Food manufacturer convicted and fined $80k after worker seriously injured

Lilydale food manufacturer Yarra Valley Snack Foods makes snacks, including corn chips which are made with the Masa mill trolley, weighing about 500 kg.

On 1 February 2019 employees were manually moving the plant in order to clean it. While it was being moved, its roller wheels got jammed in a floor grate, causing it to fall over. It landed on top of a worker, pinning him underneath and causing serious injuries including a punctured left lung, fractured ribs, fractured right ankle, fractured 1.3 in lower back, fractured left leg and deep lacerations to the scalp and knee. He has not yet returned to work.

The company failed to reduce or eliminate the risk by either bolting the plant to the ground, implementing a standard operating procedure for the cleaning of the plant or installing a work platform adjacent to the plant for cleaning.

Yarra Valley Snack Foods pleaded guilty and convicted and fined $80,000 plus costs of $3,505.

Quarry fined $35k after excavator hits powerlines

A quarry near Geelong has been convicted and fined $35,000 after a worker had a lucky escape when the excavator he was driving made contact with high voltage powerlines.

Barro Group Pty Ltd was sentenced in Geelong Magistrates' Court last Thursday after pleading guilty to failing to ensure that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it were safe.

The excavator made contact with powerlines at the Maude quarry in October 2018 when the worker was blinded by the sun as he drove the machine from a dam with its boom up. Two of the lines fell to the ground and power supply was cut to the quarry. No one was injured.

WorkSafe inspectors found there were no protective barriers or warning devices preventing moving machinery coming into contact with overhead powerlines. The day following the incident, the company installed hazard signage and bund walls to prevent machinery touching the lines. It later installed permanent height restriction structures at both ends of the powerlines.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said employers must ensure that workers' lives were not put at risk when working near powerlines."This could have easily ended in tragedy. Powerlines are not always easy to see and it's up to employers to do everything they can to reduce the risks they pose," Ms Nielsen said. "If there had been adequate height restriction structures and warning signage in place then this frightening incident could have been avoided."
Read more, including advice on how the incident could have been prevented: WorkSafe media release

Construction company fined $15k

A new medical centre including a new entry road and car park was being built by Kane Constructions Pty Ltd at a site in Werribee. There were a number of contractors working in and around the project including a company completing civil works which included excavation works at the access road leading to the medical centre.

Opposite the site was St Vincent's Care Services ("SVCS"), part of St Vincent's Private Hospital, where there was also construction being undertaken. In between SVCS and the construction area was a vacant block of land. There were two sets of temporary fencing in place.

On 10 March 2018, an 85 year old male who had gone missing from SVCS gained access to the Kane construction site. After a search he was found down an embankment, where he had fallen some time before. He had hit his head on a skid steer loader’s bucket, and suffered serious injuries to the head, hip and elsewhere. 

It was found that there was a 40 metre gap in the site boundary fence. Worksafe was notified on 10 March 2018 by Victoria Police and on 12 March 2018 by Kane Constructions.

It appears that a third party had removed part of the fence, unbeknownst to Kane Constructions. The company however acknowledged it was ultimately their responsibility, and pleaded guilty. It was, without conviction, fined $15,000 and costs of $4,625.

To check for further prosecutions before next week's SafetyNet, go to WorkSafe's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.  

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