VIC: Company Fined $50,000 After Worker’s Leg Injury

A bulk handling company has been fined $ 50,000 by the Horsham Magistrates’ Court after a worker was seriously injured when his leg was caught in a machine.

The victim’s leg became entangled in an unguarded sweep auger, causing the calf muscle on his right leg to detach and lacerations requiring about 100 stitches.

The company pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one charge of breaching section 21(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 after admitting it failed to provide a safe working environment for its employees.

The court was told that in September 2010, a worker was helping move canola from a silo into the truck. He switched on a mobile auger, the conveyer and the sweep auger and entered a silo. He entered the silo to lift the sweep auger by its handle to help it to ‘bite’ into the grain.

As the worker stood between the edge of the sweep auger and the wall of the silo, his right leg became caught in the sweep auger.

WorkSafe’s investigation found the company failed to provide any guarding for the sweep auger, failed to ensure workers did not get too close to the sweep auger while it was operating and failed to ensure it could not be operated while someone was inside.

The company subsequently fitted the sweep auger with a solid mesh guard and a metal guard was also installed to reduce entanglement risks.

A wheel was also installed in place of the sweep auger handle, removing the need for employees to approach it whilst it was rotating. Controls were also properly labelled and further controls installed inside the silo.

WorkSafe’s General Manager of Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said the horrific incident showed how employers had to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety of their employees.

“Dangerous machinery will be a major focus for WorkSafe in the next financial year. This incident shows what can happen and how simple measures can prevent the incident happening.

OHS News

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