$80,000 fine for safety breaches at bottling plant

A beverage manufacturer has been convicted and fined a total of $80,000 over a number of health and safety breaches, including an incident that left a worker in intensive care.
News article published

Thursday 03 Dec 2020

Industries and topics
  • Manufacturing
  • Plant hazards
  • Food and beverage production

Taylor Ferguson & Co Pty Ltd, trading as Alepat Taylor, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court last week to two matters involving seven breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act at its Kyneton bottling and packing factory.

On Monday, the company was fined $25,000 on four counts of failing to maintain safe machines.

The court heard Taylor Ferguson was issued with improvement notices in October 2018 after WorkSafe inspectors identified faulty or inoperable guarding on four machines when responding to an anonymous complaint of unsafe work conditions.

The issues had not been resolved when inspectors returned the following month and it wasn't until February 2019 that each machine had adequate guarding.

Taylor Ferguson was also fined $30,000 for failing to maintain a safe machine after a worker was injured due to inadequate guarding in August 2019.

Part of that machine, which moves bottles from a pallet onto a conveyor, descended onto the worker crushing his head and face.

The company was fined a further $25,000 for not notifying WorkSafe and failing to preserve the scene of the incident.

The court was told the scene was disturbed when production resumed soon after the worker was taken to hospital and WorkSafe only became aware of the incident three days later when another worker raised concerns.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for putting workers at risk by allowing them to use insufficiently guarded machines.

"This worker was left with an horrific, life-changing injury after this company failed in its duty to properly manage the well-known dangers of moving machinery on a number of occasions," Ms Nielsen said.

"The fact that this incident wasn’t reported to WorkSafe and production restarted so soon shows a complete disregard for the health and safety of workers."

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.