Prosecutions

George Weston Foods convicted and fined $125,000 after worker crushed

George Weston Foods Limited, trading as Tip Top Bakeries at its premises on the South Gippsland Highway, Dandenong South, has been prosecuted, convicted and fined after a workers was crushed.

The workplace has the '8000 Prover', a large warming chamber using steam and humidity to help grow the dough. The dough, in tins that on large trays which weigh about 75 to 100 kilograms when loaded, move through the 8000 Prover on a six to seven level conveyor system.

At time, the dough tins fall off the trays (a ‘Tip’), making the trays unbalanced and jam in the conveyor. Maintenance crews release the trays, and this can involve use of crow bars, angle grinders or oxy-acetylene. The maintenance crew will also ‘inch’ the conveyors back and forth to assist in releasing trays jammed in the Tip.

On 4 January 2019 a maintenance worker crawled under the conveyor to work on clearing a Tip. Two others were working with him at the time, one inching the conveyor and the other standing nearby. The usual process was to isolate the Prover, stopping the conveyor, enter it and clean up.

Due to a misheard communication, the conveyor was started up by one of the other workers. The maintenance worker was crushed.  He remained trapped for 30 minutes while emergency rescue was implemented. He was then taken to the Alfred Hospital, suffering internal bruising, minor scarring, and lower back muscular pain.

There were risks to the health and safety of workers undertaking maintenance works on the Prover. The company failed to provide suitable auxiliary controls. It pleaded guilty and was, with conviction, fined $125,000 and costs of $3,847.

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

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