Melbourne recycling company fined over separate incidents that left workers injured - 26.8.20

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A Melbourne recycling company has been fined $115,000 after workers were injured in two separate incidents.

The company has been convicted and fined in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on August 7 following their guilty plea to four charges.

The recycling company was fined $50,000 for two charges of failing to maintain a safe workplace and failing to provide safe plant following an incident at its Laverton North recycling sorting facility in 2017.

It was fined $15,000 on a third charge of failing to provide safe plant relating to inadequate guarding around temporary plant after the 2017 incident.

The court heard a 68-year-old worker had been dragged up a conveyor and trapped against a steel beam on a separator machine when the paper sorting line was restarted while he was performing routine maintenance.

Investigation revealed there were no fall protection risk controls in place for the task, which required the worker to access the separator’s conveyor belt at a height of more than two metres.

The workers had forgotten to turn off the separator’s isolation switch located at the top of the conveyor.

A worker who heard the victim’s screams called out for the machine to be stopped after being unable to locate an emergency stop button.

WorkSafe inspectors found no emergency stops in the vicinity of the separator and the machine’s three energy isolators were not locked out or tagged and were located more than two metres above the ground inside the perimeter guarding.

A gap has also been found in the removable perimeter guarding and no energy isolation point was fitted onto the machine’s main control.

Four months after the incident, inspectors observed the separator had been reconfigured but found perimeter guarding that could be removed by hand. Electrical proximity interlock switches on the gates of the perimeter guarding were disconnected, enabling access to the underside of the conveyors while the machine was operating.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen saidi nadequate guarding are known causes of work-related injuries and deaths.

“These horrific incidents should serve as a warning to all employers that failing to protect workers can have life-altering impacts on injured workers and lead to convictions and fines for those responsible,” Ms. Nielsen said. “There are no excuses for failing to have adequate guarding and lock-out systems in place and WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who fail to protect their workers.”

Source: OHS Daily News