Prosecutions

Related companies commit identical breaches

Victorian employer Greenham Gippsland Pty Ltd was on November 11 fined $25,000 after a rise-and-fall platform (RFP) at its Tanjil South abattoir lowered onto and caused severe injuries to an 18-year-old worker, in April 2019.

The sentencing followed a Tasmanian Supreme Court ruling against associated company Greenham Tasmania Pty Ltd, which was charged with safety contraventions after a worker at its Smithton abattoir suffered crush injuries in an almost identical RFP incident in April 2016.

The Supreme Court upheld a magistrate's finding that Greenham breached the Tasmanian WHS Act in failing to clearly mark an exclusion zone below the relevant RFP, install signage warning of the dangers posed by the RFP, or create a standard operating procedure with a safe system for cleaning around and under the platform.

The Victorian case also involved Greenham's failure to implement exclusion zones around RFPs, provide warning signs, or prohibit cleaning around and under RFPs while they were being used.

Greenham pleaded guilty to breaching s21 of the Vic OHS Act, and acknowledged that it should have: installed a railing around the perimeter of the incident-causing RFP to prevent access to the area underneath it; installed plastic chains on the bottom of the RFP to act as a warning when the plant was being raised or lowered; and programmed the RFP to prevent it descending lower than 820mm above ground level.

The Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court heard employees who processed slaughtered cattle at the Tanjil South site used the RFPs to raise or lower their positions to enable them to access different parts of each carcass. The teenage worker was cleaning the area when an RFP lowered onto him and he was crushed between the fat tray at the base of the platform and the floor. He was airlifted to hospital with a broken leg, bruised liver and collapsed left lung.

The Court decided not to record a conviction against the employer, given it pleaded guilty to safety breaches at an early stage, was remorseful, and immediately responded to the Tanjil South incident by taking steps to reduce RFP risks. Source: OHSAlert

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

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