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Prosecution Details

Offender Co-operative Bulk Handling Limited


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 SC2/2017 17 February 2014 23rd May 2017 3A(3)(b)(i) $37,500.00 19th September 2017
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer did not as far as is practicable provide and maintain a working environment in which the employees of the employer are not exposed to hazards and by that contravention caused the serious harm to an employee.

Background Details

Workplace and Employment

The Accused is a Co-Operative registered under the Co-Operatives Act 2009 and registered under the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission.

The Accused operates a grain Receival and transport network across Western Australia with 197 Grain Receival Sites at locations spread across 4 zones (Albany, Esperance, Kwinana, and Geraldton).  The Bodallin Receival Site (‘the Workplace’) is located at Lot 1 Bodallin South Road, Bodallin in Area 5 of the Kwinana zone. This is commonly referred to as the CBH Grain Terminal Bodallin.

The Victim was a full time employee of the Accused on 17 February 2014 and was employed as a Receival Point Operator (RPO).


Receival sites have a Conveyor Loading System (CLS) made up of several parts.

A Tripper is a funnel device mounted on a conveyor belt to feed grain off the ground conveyor onto a Stacker/Loader.

The Stacker/Loader is an electric conveyor machine used to transfer grain into Open Bulkhead Storages.

A minimum of two operators are required to perform the task of ‘Stacker Operation’. One operator is to drive/operate the Stacker/Loader and the second person as a “spotter” to monitor the distance of the Stacker from obstacles.

The electric cable which powers the Stacker/Loader has to be plugged into sockets which are located under the ground conveyor approximately 9m apart.

The Stacker/Loader is moved into position and connected up to a Tripper.


On 17 February 2014 the Victim was assisting two other employees to move Stacker/Loader 098 which was connected to a Tripper on Conveyor 1 at the Workplace.

One of the other employees was the operator of Stacker/Loader 098 (operator) and the other employee was acting as the spotter on operator’s left and the Victim acting as spotter on operator’s right nearest to the conveyor.  The Stacker/Loader’s cable had reached its full length so the Victim unplugged the cord and passed it to another employee to plug into the next socket.  The operator called out all clear and started the Stacker/Loader back up. The Victim was watching the cord and had her hand on the safety mesh/guard to her right.

As the operator proceeded to move the Stacker/Loader forward the Victim’s hand fell onto the rail. The Tripper wheel ran over her right hand and she screamed.  The operator immediately stopped and saw her hand caught between the wheel and rail so he backed the Stacker/Loader and Tripper wheel off her hand.

The Victim was driven to Merredin Hospital and then transferred to Perth for surgery.

Serious Harm

The Victim was seen by a plastic surgeon who stated she received a mutilating injury to her right hand consisting of:

  1. Extensive laceration to the dorsum of the right hand extended to the ring and little finger;
  2. Third web space laceration;
  3. Right little finger volar laceration involving the ulnar neurovascular bundle, both flexor tendons and the hypothenar musculature and related tendons;
  4. Laceration of the volar aspect of the right ring finger;
  5. Open fracture of the fifth metacarpus.

As a result of these injuries the Victim had surgery on the following dates:

  1. 17 February 2014 (initial surgery);
  2. 25 March 2014 (wound necrosis requiring a skin graft and chronic regional pain developing);
  3. 7 January 2015 (amputation of little finger due to finger curling over and constant pain).

The surgeon stated if she hadn’t had received treatment she would have no function of the right hand.  Subsequent to her last surgery the Victim has no feeling in her ring finger and finds it difficult to grip things.

The Hazard

The Accused did not as far as is practicable provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees are not exposed to hazards.  The hazard (“Hazard”) in the working environment was a body part being caught between a tripper wheel and rail as a tripper is moved.

The wheel guard fitted to the Tripper wheel that ran over the Victims hand was not adequate to protect against the Hazard.

The Accused’s failure to provide and maintain a safe working environment caused serious harm to the Victim.


A reasonable person in the position of the Accused would have foreseen the Hazard.

The Accused had knowledge of the Hazard due to a previous injury to worker in 2010 in similar circumstances where an unguarded Tripper wheel ran over an employee’s hand causing a laceration that required stitches.  This previous incident occurred in Merredin which is in the same zone as the Workplace.

An internal CBH investigation after the 2010 incident identified the following:

  1. The current design of tripper wheel guards is inadequate for the use of the Trippers;
  2. Design of the wheel guard should be changed or stackers and trippers should not remain connected whilst they are moved;
  3. As an interim to a new design solution a Safe Work Procedure (SWP) for moving joined Trippers and Stacker/Loaders should be utilized; and
  4. There appeared to be complacency with regards to reporting damaged equipment.

In March 2013 there were internal discussions at CBH regarding the guarding on Tripper wheels.

The outcome of these discussions was the initiation of a Statewide project to work up a design for new Tripper wheel guards.

The design for the new Tripper wheel guards was not completed until after this incident involving the Victim.

New guards

By 10 December 2014 after receiving an Improvement Notice from WorkSafe the Accused had implemented a new design of Tripper wheel guard to all its 197 sites.  This was at a cost of $17.20 per wheel guard with a total cost of $1,058,913 for the total guarding program across the State.

Outcome Summary

On the 23 May 2017 the accused entered a guilty plea and was convicted. The Magistrate fined the accused on 19 September 2017 with an initial fine of $50,000 which was reduced for plea and other mitigating factors to a fine of $37,500.  Costs of $3577.00 were ordered. 

Court Magsitrates Court of Western Australia - Southern Cross
Costs $3577.00

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