Fruit company fined for sliced finger incident

Shepparton company SPC Ardmona Operations Ltd has been fined $25,000 without conviction after a worker’s finger was partially severed by moving machinery.


The fruit processor pleaded guilty last week to one charge for failing to ensure guarding prevented access to a dangerous area of the plant.

The company was also ordered to pay $3592 in costs.

The court heard that a casual employee was cleaning an operating packing line when her finger was caught between the conveyor and a metal edge.

She was attempting to flick a stuck piece of fruit off the conveyor belt with her finger when the incident occurred.

Following the incident, SPC Ardmona immediately installed guarding to cover the gap between the conveyor and the edge. Additional training was also provided to all employees.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said no worker should ever be exposed by an employer to the risk of injury when cleaning machinery.

"This worker has been left with permanent injuries that would have been avoided if appropriate guarding had been in place," Ms Nielsen said.

"The risks of exposing workers to moving machinery are well known and WorkSafe will not hesitate to take action against employers who fail to do all they can to eliminate or reduce these."

To clean equipment safely employers should:

  • 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 equipment being cleaned.
  • Ensure machinery is properly guarded and safety interlocks are regularly checked.
  • Ensure warning lights and sounds are working.
  • Where practicable, 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 cannot be installed, ensure interlocked guarding is installed along the length of the conveyor.