Agricultural processor Ricegrowers Ltd has been convicted and fined $260,000 following the death of a maintenance worker at a stock feed plant in Tongala.
Ricegrowers pleaded guilty to one count of failing to provide or maintain plant that was, so far as reasonably practical, without risks to health and safety.
The Melbourne County Court heard the 53-year-old man was performing maintenance on the inside of a surge bin at the time of the incident in September, 2014.
He died when the wooden plank he was standing on snapped, causing him to fall onto a sensor-activated screw conveyor at the bottom of the bin.
The court heard there was no emergency stop button within reach of the surge bin’s access plate that would have allowed an observer to stop the screw conveyor in the event it started operating during maintenance.
WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety Paul Fowler said employers must ensure protective devices such as override buttons and guards are in place to prevent workers being caught in moving plant during maintenance work.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for workers to be exposed to horrific injuries or death because of improperly maintained or unsafe plant,” he said.
“These types of incidents have tragic consequences for workers, their families and friends, and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who fail to protect people from unsafe plant.”
Safety measures to prevent injuries from operating plant include:
- Ensuring emergency stop buttons are in within reach of observers
- Using isolation procedures such as lockout devices when clearing blockages or servicing and maintaining machinery and equipment
- Ensuring guards are in the correct place during and after any repair or maintenance
- Installing fitted guards, fences, barriers or interlocked gates so moving parts cannot be touched and workers cannot be struck by ejected items
- Ensuring pre-operation checks are carried out on interlocking and emergency systems.
For more information visit www.worksafe.vic.gov.au
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