Prosecutions

Multiple breaches, serious injury lead to conviction and fine of $80,000

Taylor Ferguson & Co. Pty. Ltd, a company that operates a bottling and packing plant in Kyneton has been convicted and fined $80,000 after an incident in which a worker was seriously injured when crushed by a piece of plant. The company had failed to act on a number of occasions and failed to both notify WorkSafe and preserve the scene of the incident.

  • On 8 October 2018 a WorkSafe Inspector conducted an inspection and issued improvement notices on inadequate guarding on four pieces of plant which created risks of entanglement, amputation and electric shock.
  • On 29 November 2018 Inspectors attended to follow up on the improvement notices. The company had not taken any action to fix the guarding issues on any of the machines, continuing to expose employees to risks to their health and safety.
  • On 30 November 2018 Inspectors re-attended the workplace, along with an external contractor who commenced identification and rectification works.
  • On 8 January 2019 Inspectors re-attended the workplace: access to the danger areas on three of the four items of plant had been adequately guarded.
  • On 22 February 2019 Inspectors re-attended the workplace:  action had been taken on the last piece of plant.

Then, on Friday 16 August 2019 an employee was working near another item of plant - the Depallatiser - which mechanically loads pallets of empty bottles onto a conveyor for processing. Workers in an area near the depallatiser were at risk of serious injury or death due to entanglement, crushing or being struck by it and its robotic arm.

The worker was collecting bottles that had fallen over during loading and ensuring the depallatiser was working correctly. He had been shown to use either a hook on a stick or a tall broom, but as it was a fast-paced environment sometimes he used his hands. As he leaned over, the depallatiser descended, crushing his head and face. He sought help and collapsed nearby. He was transported by paramedics to hospital, where he underwent numerous facial surgeries and spent a week in intensive care.

Production at the workplace was stopped after paramedics arrived and the noise hindered their treatment of the man. Once paramedics left production was restarted, disturbing the scene of the incident. WorkSafe was not notified, only becoming aware after a subsequent service request was made on Monday 19 November 2019.

The offender pleaded guilty and was with conviction sentenced to a total effective fine of $80,000. ($25,000 for the observational breaches commencing 8 October 2018; $30,000 for the incident on 16 August 2019; $25,000 for failing to notify WorkSafe and failing to preserve the incident scene, plus $6,866 in costs).

The worker could have been killed. 

Bakery fined $30k after worker loses finger

A labour hire worker was provided to Davies Bakery Pty Ltd, a commercial bakery in Broadmeadows, by Chandler Personnel Pty Ltd. Chandler provided the worker with induction training. Davies, however, did not induct him at the workplace or give him any training or information on the machines used to manufacture pastry products. The worker worked in the pastry section for about year and then was directed by Chandler to work in the bread packing area the day prior to the incident.

On 27 June 2018, his first day in the bread packing area, the worker was removing bread from the infeed conveyor to the slicer. As he was picking up the bread, the middle finger on his right hand went through the conveyor belt and was amputated when it came into contact with the in running nip point on the operating conveyor belt. Removing bread from the conveyor belt was a common practice and was done on a daily basis to prevent bread building up when the slicer stopped working.

Following the incident, two improvement notices were issued and, in order to comply with the notices, Davies arranged for the replacement of the conveyor belt with finger safe conveyor belts within 9 days of the incident.

Davies pleaded guilty to one charge and was without conviction, fined $30,000 plus $3,725 in costs.

To check for more prosecutions before the next edition,  go to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage. 

WA: Tunnel contractor fined $150K for worker’s electrocution

A tunnel contractor for the Forrestfield Airport Link Project has been fined $150,000, plus $3000 in costs following an incident in which a worker sustained major electrical burns in October 2017 when a crane made contact with or came too close to high voltage overhead power lines. The company pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court in October to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee.

A cane crew tasked to relocate and install a 10 metre long time-lapse camera pole on top of a concrete block to monitor the construction works at the south site of the project did not receive an induction specific to that site. When they moved the pole vertically, the boom of the crane either came into contact with or came within close proximity to 132,000-volt overhead power lines, causing an electrical flashover. A rigger standing on the ground and holding the pole and tag line received a severe electric shock, and suffered severe electrical burns to 38 per cent of his body. He has been left with permanent physical injuries and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Source: SafetyCulture

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