Company fined $90,000 after crush injury

Goodman Fielder Consumer Foods Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $90,000 yesterday over an incident in which a worker's hand was crushed in a machine.
News article published

Wednesday 22 Aug 2012

Industries and topics
  • Manufacturing
  • Hazardous manual handling

The company pleaded guilty at the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court to failing to provide safe plant and failing to provide proper training under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.

The injured worker was an employee of labour hire company Skilled Group Ltd and had been assigned to work at the company’s Pampas factory for two years prior to the incident on 5 September 2009.

Skilled Group Ltd was convicted and fined $50,000 in November last year in relation to the same incident.

The court was told the worker was cleaning a dough extruder when it suddenly activated, trapping the man’s arm in the machine.

WorkSafe’s General Manager for Health and Safety Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said the company’s conviction and fine could have easily been avoided.

“Properly guarding machines is a fundamental safety requirement that employers must act on to avoid incidents like this from happening,” she said.

An investigation found the worker was not adequately trained in how to operate the machine’s controls, which led to him failing to properly de-activate the machine before cleaning it.

Informal training was carried out “on the job” by other workers, but they did not follow a safe and consistent approach.

The investigation also found the machine was inadequately guarded; its plastic guard had a 10cm gap, big enough for the worker to put his arm through.

“Businesses have to make sure moving parts of a machine have proper guards or physical barriers fitted,” Ms Sturzenegger said.

“On top of this, workers responsible for cleaning or servicing machines need to be properly trained in how to deactivate them.”

“As this incident has shown, inadequately training staff can have distressing consequences for all involved.”