Crushed arm leads to $30,000 fine for tomato farm

A hydroponic tomato farm has been convicted and fined $30,000 after a worker’s arm was crushed in unguarded machinery in January, 2019.


Tatura Fresh Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Shepparton Magistrates' Court on Monday after pleading guilty on August 28 to failing to provide or maintain a working environment that was safe and without risks to health.

The company was also ordered to pay $3623 in costs.

The court heard a worker was operating a powered leaf mat washer when his arm was caught in an unguarded winding mechanism, causing serious crush injuries and nerve damage.

Tatura Fresh had imported the washer from overseas without ensuring it met Australian standards and had failed to ensure there was guarding around dangerous, powered areas and that there was a documented system of work for operating the machine.

There was also no safety switch and the emergency stop control was not operational.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for failing to protect workers from the risk of unguarded machinery to cause severe and permanent injuries.

“There is no room for complacency when it comes to dangerous, high risk hazards such as moving machinery,” Ms Nielsen said.

“A worker has received serious and possibly life-long injuries from an incident that could easily have been prevented with proper guarding and a safe system of work that all employees were trained in implementing.”

To manage risks employers should:

  • Identify hazards, assess the risks associated with them and eliminate or control those risks by isolating them or using an alternative.
  • Train staff in the safe operation of machines and equipment and provide written procedures in the worker's first language.
  • Develop and implement safe operating procedures in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives.
  • Ensure safety guards and gates are compliant and fixed to machines at all times.
  • Regularly service and inspect machines and equipment.
  • Place signs on or near a machine to alert employees of the dangers of operating it.