A major dairy company was convicted and fined $35,000 following an incident in which a worker had a finger severed in a cheese shredding machine.
The Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Limited pleaded guilty in Geelong Magistrates’ Court this week to failing to provide a safe working environment by failing to provide plant that was safe and without risks to health.
The court heard that on 7 August last year, the worker was working on a cheese line at the company’s Allansford factory when he attempted to unblock a cheese shredding machine.
The man was in the process of cleaning out the shredding machine when he accidentally fell forward and his right shoulder connected with the operating button of the cheese shredding machine. The man’s hand became caught and he suffered several injuries including the amputation of his index finger.
The court heard that the chute where the worker placed his hand did not have an interlock switch fitted to prevent the machine starting when the chute was removed. It also heard the company had failed to conduct an adequate hazard identification risk assessment in relation to the shredding machine.
The company was also ordered to pay $3052 in costs.
WorkSafe’s Regional Director, Adam Rogers, said employers needed to understand the potential risks of every machine in their operation if they were to ensure the safety of their workers.
“Assessing the risks associated with dangerous machines, and then dealing with those risks, is a fundamental requirement of employers.” he said.
“Thousands of Victorians are injured every year because of dangerous machines. Too often, the risks are known but not acted on.
“Whether it’s trying to remove a simple blockage or performing scheduled maintenance, people maintaining, repairing, servicing or cleaning machinery have a high risk of being maimed through inadvertent operation of machinery they are working on.
”If risks aren’t managed, and a worker is injured, the company involved will face serious charges. Worse still, it means an employee could be facing a lifetime of pain and suffering.”
For advice on equipment and machinery safety, go to worksafe.vic.gov.au
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.