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Prosecution Details

Offender Austral Bricks (WA) Pty Ltd (ACN 079 711 603)


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 MI10992/11 2 November 2008 10th November 2011 4.37(1)(f) 1.16(2)(b)(i) $10,000.00 10th November 2011
Description of Breach(es)

Being a person having control of a workplace, failed to ensure that every dangerous part of a fixed powered plant, was as far as practicable securely fenced or guarded in accordance with regulation 4.29; contrary to regulation 4.37(1)(f) of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 made under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The Accused is a company that manufactures and sells clay bricks and operated a brick manufacturing facility at 10 Bonner Drive in Malaga ("the workplace"), employing approximately 30 people at the workplace.  The workplace was in operation 24 hours a day, six to seven days a week, with each day consisting of a day shift and a night shift.

The brick manufacturing process at the workplace begins at a pit located at the back of the workplace where trucks unload clay. The clay then goes through a hopper and crusher and through several stages where it is mixed and pumped out into a machine called an extruder.  The extruder has a vacuum and two arms that mix the clay. There is an auger that turns and pushes the clay out through a die box onto a conveyor belt, forming what is known as a slug. 

The slug travels along the belt to where it is cut up into individual bricks by cutters. Cutters use wires to cut the slug up into the correct dimensions.  Cutter wires regularly break and need to be replaced. When a cutter wire does break it leaves a double brick that has not been cut to the correct size. When this occurs, the double brick needs to be removed.  Double bricks are usually discarded by throwing them onto the combined / cumulative waste conveyor located beneath the cutters. 

A blockage can occur when a double brick gets stuck between the waste conveyor and the housing frame of a cutter, resulting in an accumulation of build up.

On 2 November 2008 during the night shift at approximately 12:30am a blockage occurred in the maintenance area on the waste conveyor between two cutter machines.

A machine operator was at work at the workplace at the time, working alone. He climbed down a ladder to the maintenance area to see to the blockage.

There was no fixed guard or interlocked gate to prevent persons from climbing down the ladder and accessing the maintenance area.  There were no fixed guards to prevent persons from making contact with the dangerous moving parts in the maintenance area.

The cutters were still energised at the time.

When the machine operator went to remove the double brick causing the blockage, his arm became caught between the rotary arm of one of the cutters and the housing frame of the cutter.  He was able to pull his arm out and using his left hand only, climb up the ladder out of the maintenance area, turn off the machine at the control panel and make a call for help on his two way radio.

The machine operator had suffered a fracture to his upper right arm, significant contusions to his radial nerve and a complete division of his right ulnar nerve. As a result of the injury to his ulnar nerve, the machine operator will never regain full mobility or sensation in the distribution of his ulnar nerve, essentially his entire right arm and hand.

Subsequent to the accident the Accused installed an interlock gate within 48 hours which prevents access to the maintenance area whilst the cutters are energized.

Outcome Summary

The Accused plead guilty and was convicted

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Midland
Costs $958.70

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