Chip maker fined $63,000 after worker injured in corn grinder
A Bendigo corn chip manufacturer has been fined a total of $63,000 after a worker's hand was entangled in an unguarded corn grinder.
Published:20 December 2023
Eureka Chip Company Pty Ltd, was sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court last Thursday after pleading guilty to three charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The company was, without conviction, fined $50,000 for failing to provide or maintain safe plant; $10,000 for failing to provide information, instruction and training; and $3,000 for failing to notify WorkSafe immediately after the incident.
It was also ordered to pay costs of $4,677.
In August 2021, the worker was operating the corn grinder when, as sometimes happened during the manufacturing process, the corn began to accumulate in the machine.
As the worker used his hand to push the corn down a chute, his finger became entangled in a rotating auger and his hand was pulled into the machine.
The worker suffered lacerations and a fractured finger, which required surgery.
The court heard that once the injured worker was freed, a fellow worker was told to check and clean the machine, which began operating again within five minutes of the incident.
It took two days for WorkSafe to be notified of the incident.
An investigation found workers regularly used their hands or spatulas to clear blockages while the corn grinder was operating and were provided little information and training on how to use the machine safely.
It was reasonably practicable for the company to have ensured machinery was properly guarded and to have provided information, instruction and training relating to the danger zones of the machine and how to clear blockages safely.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the lack of guarding on the machine and the poor training in how to use it safely meant this was an incident waiting to happen.
"When employers ignore such basic safety controls then sadly it's often a matter of when, not if, a serious incident will occur," Dr Beer said.
"WorkSafe will not hesitate to take action where there is such a blatant disregard for workers' safety."
To manage risks when working with machinery 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.