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Prosecution Details

Offender Ghiagarajan Gopal


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 AR6796/09 29 May 2006 18th March 2010 20A(2)(c) $1,500.00 18th March 2010
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employee did not take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of any other person through any act or ommissions at work, and by that contravention caused serious harm to another person, contrary to section 20(1)(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

Canon Foods Services Pty Ltd is a manufacturer of convenience foods such as crumbed chicken and fish products, burgers and other similar products.

The Company's business premises comprise offices and a factory unit located at 7 Madison Street in Canning Vale.  The factory unit houses food processing machinery and packaging equipment.

The Company's food processing operations involve mincing, mixing, forming, cooking and packaging the various products.

At all relevant times, the accused was employed by the Company as its Production Manager.  The accused was in charge of the day-to-day food processing operations and would oversee the staff employed to operate the food processing machinery, including the manner in which they operated that machinery.

One of the machines in the Company's factory was a large food mincer/grinder, known as the Seydelmann Automatic Grinder ("the Grinder").

The Grinder had a large stainless steel hopper into which product is placed.  Once the product is placed in the hopper, it is fed by means of an auger - being a rotating helical metal shaft, and then into grinding rings, where the product is minced - the grinding rings which mince the product are separately guarded.

The Grinder had an interlocking step fixed to the front of the machine, which was designed to allow the Grinder to operate only whilst the step was locked in the upright position.  The step was described by the Operation Manual as a "security device" to bring the operation of the machine to a stop when the interlock mechanism is released and the step is unfolded.

On the morning of 29 May 2006 one of the Company's employees was in the process of grinding blocks of cheese in the Grinder.

During this process, he was standing on the interlocking step, placing the cheese into the hopper of the Grinder.  Even though the step was not in the upright position the Grinder continued to operate.

He turned the Grinder off a few times, in order to flick some cheese that was sticking to the sides of the hopper down near the auger.  At approximately 9.00 am he turned the Grinder on again, engaged it into slow speed and reached down into the hopper to push the cheese into the auger.

As he pushed the cheese down his left hand came into contact with the auger, severing his index and middle fingers and pulling skin and muscle from the back of his hand and arm.

He was immediately transferred by ambulance to hospital for emergency surgery, however, the index and middle fingers on his left hand were permanently lost.

The injured person commenced work with the company in early April 2006 and he stated that no one had ever told him not to put his hands in the machine.

The accused had also observed employees reaching down into the hopper and pushing food into the auger while the Grinder was operating.  Indeed, he engaged in such conduct himself from time to time.  He failed to advise any of the employees, including the injured person, not to operate the Grinder in such a manner.  He also failed to notify the company of the hazard.

The injured person was not aware that the step that he was standing on in order to reach into the hopper was intended to be interlocked so that it would automatically stop the Grinder when it was placed in the "down" position.  The interlock mechanism had worked during the period of his employment.

The accused was aware that the step fixed to the front of the Grinder had an interlock mechanism and he was aware that it was not working at the relevant time.

Shortly following the date of the offence, the company:

  • arranged for an electrician to inspect and service the interlocking step on the Grinder;
  • installed an interlocking guard over the hopper on the Grinder, so that employees could no longer reach into the hopper while the Grinder was operating.

Outcome Summary

Pleaded Guilty.

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Armadale
Costs $900.00

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