Vic companies fined $50,000 after worker injures arm - 27.9.22

Two companies, PGH Bricks & Pavers Pty Ltd and Bricks Australia Services Pty Ltd (BAS), have been fined a total of $50,000 after a worker’s arm became caught in a machine at a brick manufacturing site in Thomastown in 2018. PGH Bricks & Pavers pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide plant that was, so far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health. The company was convicted and fined $40,000. Bricks Australia Services, which employed staff that worked at the PGH facility, also pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide necessary information or instructions to enable its employees to perform their work safely. It was fined $10,000 without conviction and ordered to pay costs of $3140.

The incident occurred when a worker was inspecting a possible problem with a head drum that powered a conveyor belt used to transport clay; the worker’s right arm became trapped between the belt and the drum. Another worker heard the man’s cry for help and activated the emergency stop button. The worker suffered a dislocated elbow, nerve crushing and damage from his bicep to his fingers.

The court heard that it was reasonably practicable for PGH to affix guarding to the head drum and for BAS to ensure that workers received necessary information and instruction in relation to the risk posed by the plant.

To manage risks when working with machinery, WorkSafe Victoria advises employers to identify hazards and assess the risks associated with them, eliminating or controlling those risks where possible by isolating them or using an alternative. Employers are also advised to train staff in the safe operation of machines and equipment and provide written procedures in the worker’s first language. Safe operating procedures should also be developed and implemented, in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives.

Employers must also ensure that safety guards and gates are compliant and fixed to machines at all times, and that machines and equipment are regularly serviced and inspected. Signs must also be placed on or near machines to alert employees of the dangers of operating them.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the risks associated with conveyors were well known and include entanglement and crushing of body parts. “Tragically, this worker’s life-altering injuries could have been avoided if appropriate safety measures were put in place. There is no excuse for duty holders who fail to implement guarding around known danger areas or who fail to provide their staff with the training they need to perform tasks safely,” Beer said.