Company fined $230K after worker suffers conveyor belt injury - 28.10.21

Kununurra-based company Guerinoni Nominees Pty Ltd (Guerinoni) has been fined $230,000 and ordered to pay costs of $75,000 after an employee suffered serious injuries while operating an alluvial screening and crushing plant. The company pleaded not guilty but was convicted for failing to provide a safe work environment and causing serious harm to an employee. In June 2016, the worker used a tool to reach into the plant’s conveyor to clear a rock rotating in the nip point of the tail-end pulley.

The moving belt had not been switched off and isolated. Both of the employee’s arms were drawn into the pinch point causing serious injuries to his arms and back. The worker managed to free himself when the tail-end pulley came to a stop, and was then able to seek emergency assistance. The conveyor did not have physical guarding to prevent access to its moving parts. The employee worked alone, without the necessary supervision, and there was no isolation procedure for the plant. These factors, along with a lack of employee training to operate the equipment, meant Guerinoni failed to comply with basic safety practices.

Acting Mines Safety Director at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety Sally North said the possibility of a serious injury or death is obvious, so mine operators must provide adequate guarding to the dangerous parts of a conveyor. “Employers must also confirm that workers conducting cleaning, maintenance and repair work are adequately instructed, trained, assessed and supervised. Failure to do so may expose their employees to unacceptable risks.”

North added that there were a number of recommended actions to minimise risks while working around conveyors, including installing sufficient and effective guarding, undertaking a risk assessment on all machinery to identify hazards, enforcing suitable isolation and emergency procedures and ensuring adequate communication systems and supervision for people working alone.

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