|Offender||Elan Energy Management Pty Ltd (ACN 009 401 861)|
|Charge||Charge Number||Offence Date||Date Convicted||Regulation||Section||Penalty Provision||Penalty Imposed||Date Sentenced|
|1||PE10805/2016||23 September 2013||15th November 2016||19(1) 19A(2)||3A(3)(b)(i)||$80,000.00||16th January 2017|
|Description of Breach(es)||
Being an employer, failed, so far as was practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards, and by that contravention, caused serious harm to an employee.
Elan Energy Management Pty Ltd (Elan Energy) is a tyre recycling company which employed approximately 20 people and had a sole director.
At all material times Elan Energy:
Elan Energy occupied premises and operated its business from property known as 99 Dowd Street Welshpool (Workplace).
The Workplace consisted of a yard and workshop.
The Shredder was set up in the workshop. It is a large item of plant mounted on a tri-axle low loader truck trailer and is powered by an M14 diesel motor. There is a collapsible in-feed and out-feed conveyor designed for ease of transport. When the Shredder is in use the conveyors are folded out.
The Shredder is used to shred tyres and reduce them into smaller pieces known as ‘shred.’
PROCESS OF OPERATING SHREDDER
The tyres are manually lifted onto the Shredder’s in-feed conveyor which carries them up to the in-feed hopper. The tyres fall into the cutting chamber and are shredded by two sets of cutters. The shred then drops down onto the out-feed conveyor and forms in a pile at the end of the out-feed conveyor.
Four employees work on the Shredder, one person operates the controls, another person is located on the trailer at the out-feed and two people load the in-feed conveyor.
The person at the out-feed is responsible for ensuring the out-feed conveyor belt continues to clear and blockages do not occur.
The out-feed is rectangular in shape and located at the rear of the trailer. It has three sides that have mesh panels and there is no mesh on the fourth side where the out-feed conveyor is located. This gap is approximately one metre wide by one metre high.
The horizontal measurement from one inner edge of the hopper frame to the other is 126cm. The vertical distance from the top of the out-feed conveyor to the bottom of the frame is 33cm.
The cutters for shredding the tyres are located inside the shredder out-feed just above the start of the out-feed conveyor.
Out-feed blockages occur when shred or partly shredded tyres become wedged beside the cutters at the Shredder wall, or when the shred binds the rollers on the conveyor and the out-feed conveyor can no longer move.
When a blockage occurs the person standing at the out-feed signals the operator using simple hand signals, a forward circular motion for forward and a backward circular motion for reverse to tell the control operator to reverse or forward the cutters.
The operator at the controls places the Shredder in reverse which pulls tyres back into the cutters to shred them and clear the blockage. The action of reversing and forwarding the cutters may need to be done a number of times to clear the blockage.
Elan Energy’s ‘Mobile Shredder Safe Work Practices’ document provided that to clear blockages the cutters of the Shredder are placed into reverse to free wedged rubber. Further, pulling on wedged rubber is sometimes required to free up blockages. If this is required the cutter rotation is stopped and the out-feed conveyor should continue to run.
At all material times, employees observed that the Shredder’s out-feed would block 5 to 10 times an hour.
On 20 August 2013, the safety advisor employed by Elan Energy, sent an email to the Director identifying the measures which could be taken to mitigate any risk of injury posed by the Shredder, including “if close proximity to the shredding unit is unavoidable then appropriate guarding, scaffolding and access and egress is provided to all work areas.”
On 23 September 2013 Worker 1 was working at the out-feed of the Shredder when he noticed that a long thin piece of tyre shred was stuck at the out-feed.
Worker 1 signalled to Worker 2 (who was operating the Shredder’s controls) to place the Shredder in reverse.
While the Shredder was in reverse Worker 1 grabbed the piece of tyre that was stuck and fed it back into the reversing cutters while holding it closer to the cutters than he normally did as it was flopping around.
Worker 1 fed the piece of tyre back into the reversing cutters with his right hand while he held the side of the out-feed with his left hand. He could see the cutters as he had to bend in past the frame with his head inside the frame where the out-feed conveyor comes out and his right arm about halfway between his elbow and shoulder was inside the out-feed.
The piece of shred was pulled into the cutters quickly, pulling Worker 1’s hand with the pieces of tyre. When he pulled his hand out Worker 1 could see that his glove had been cut off at the fingers.
Worker 1 was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was treated for a traumatic amputation of all digits on the right hand requiring surgery to terminalise his right index finger, little finger, ring finger and middle finger. His right thumb was unsalvageable after the initial surgery to reattach.
Worker 1 suffered serious harm as following treatment and rehabilitation; these injuries have left him with permanent impairment.
Unguarded cutters are a commonly known hazard in the recycling industry.
Employees that were exposed to the hazard were at risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries, such as loss of limbs.
Employees manually pulled tyre shred out while the cutters were in reverse on a regular basis. Employees had been instructed by the operations manager to never reach into the cutters. This was reinforced in the Elan Energy’s Mobile Shredder Safe Work Practices document that under no circumstances shall any part of the body be inside the hopper confines while the teeth are rotating.
Elan Energy was aware of the unguarded cutters and that employees could reach into the cutting chamber as:
The director, the operations manager and the safety advisor were all previously employed at another tyre recycling business (which previously used the Shredder).
During its time in use at the other tyre recycling business the Shredder was operated at various times with the following items:
The Herli Holdings Pty Ltd Mobile Shredding Plant Operators Manual provides that “no personnel are to be on the trailer deck or within the power plant enclosure whilst shredding operations are in progress.” At all material times this Manual was onsite while the Shredder was operated at Elan Energy.
It was practicable for the Elan Energy to have placed guarding at the out-feed area to prevent employees from accessing the cutters.
Elan Energy has since installed a guard on the out-feed area which was fabricated in-house at a cost of approximately $3,000.
The Accused entered a guilty plea on 15 November 2016 and was convicted. On 16 January 2017 the Magistrate fined the accused $80,000.00 and ordered costs of $2013.00.
|Court||Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth|
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