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Prosecution Details

Offender Harvest Freshcuts Pty Ltd (ACN 067 682 875)


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 FR9898/11 24 June 2009 27th September 2012 3A(3)(b)(i) $40,000.00 27th September 2012
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, did not so far as was practicable, provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards, and by that failure caused its employee serious harm, and contravened sections 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The accused operated a business which produced read-made salads for supply to supermarkets from its premises in Bibra Lake (Workplace).

At the Workplace there were a number of different machines to cut and slice the produce, one of which was a belt slicer. Vegetables were placed on the belt slicer's conveyor belt, which would feed them through to a cutting chamber containing three rotating blades that would cut the vegetables into smaller pieces.

The cutting chamber was covered by a guard that could be opened, exposing the blades. However, opening the guard would engage an interlock device that would cut power to the blades. The blades could also be stopped by switching it off and/or unplugging it at the wall, turning the machine off at its on-off switch, and/or pressing its emergency-stop button.

On 24 June 2009 an employee was operating the machine.  He decided to clear vegetable matter from the cutting chamber.  He hit the emergency-stop button to stop the machine and then opened the guard and put his hand into the machine to scoop out the vegetable matter.

However, unbeknownst to him, the emergency-stop button and interlock were not functioning due to a fault in a single-contact electrical relay on the circuit in which they were connected. As a result, the blades were still spinning when the employee put his hand in the cutting chamber. Two of his fingers were amputated to the middle knuckle.

After the accident, the accused:

  • fitted the belt slicer with multiple-contact electrical relays that were less likely to fail, and would fail to safe if they did fail;
  • fitted the guard with a time-delay interlock that would fail to safe if it did fail, and which also prevented the guard being opened while the blades were spinning; and
  • instructed its employees to isolate power to the machine by switching it off and unplugging it at the wall before opening the guard.

It was reasonably practicable for the accused to have taken any or all of these measures prior to the accident.

Outcome Summary

Convicted after trial

Court Magsitrates Court of Western Australia - Perth
Costs $12,000.00

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