Cleaning company fined $30,000 after worker’s hand crushed

A commercial cleaning company has been convicted and fined $30,000 after a worker’s hand was crushed at a Cobram meat processing facility.


A commercial cleaning company has been convicted and fined $30,000 after a worker’s hand was crushed at a Cobram meat processing facility.

Sanikleen Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Shepparton Magistrate’s Court to one charge of failing to supervise its employees so that they could perform their work in a way that was safe and without risk to health.

It was also ordered to pay $9000 costs.

The court heard that on 26 May 2015, a worker was cleaning an evisceration table - a line of offal trays moving continuously on a chain - when he reached down into a drainage channel underneath to retrieve some waste meat.

The plant was energised and the trays were moving when the worker’s hand became trapped between a tray and the channel.

The court was told the worker could not reach the emergency stop and his co-workers could not see or hear him. He was able to remove his hand once the tray passed over it, but suffered a broken wrist and tendon and nerve damage and missed two months’ work.

A lock out/tag out procedure to ensure the table was isolated from energy sources during cleaning was not being followed on the day.

This is the fourth time Sanikleen has been convicted and fined over workplace safety breaches.

In December 2014 the company was convicted and fined $100,000 after a worker  injured his hand while trying to clean a moving conveyor belt in Wodonga.

In May 2012 the company was convicted and fined $100,000 after a worker’s hand became trapped while cleaning a meat processing machine in Werribee, and in September 2005 Sanikleen was convicted and fined $40,000 when a worker’s arm was de-gloved when it became entangled in an unguarded conveyor belt in Seymour.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said Sanikleen’s latest incident demonstrated that safe systems of work were of no use unless companies ensured that employees followed them.   

“Devising a safe system for workers to complete tasks is just the first step in avoiding injury. Employees also need to be supervised to ensure they understand and use the system set out for them,” Ms Williams said.

Ms Williams said the dangers of working with plant and machinery should be obvious to employers.

“Machines with moving parts often have the potential to cause serious injury, or even death. There should be no cause for an employee to be attempting to clean anything that is still operating.”

Tips for cleaning plant and equipment safely:

  • Ensure machines are powered down and fully secured before cleaning begins.
  • Ensure workers are properly trained and supervised so they understand the risks associated with the plant and equipment being cleaned.
  • Ensure machinery is properly guarded and safety interlocks are regularly checked.
  • Ensure warning lights and sounds are working
  • Ensure any conveyor system has a lanyard type emergency stop system that will enable a person anywhere along a conveyor to gain immediate access to the emergency stop
  • If a lanyard type emergency stop can’t be installed, ensure interlocked guarding is installed along the length of the conveyor.