|Offender||Mode 2 Group Pty Ltd (ACN 166 168 823)|
|Charge||Charge Number||Offence Date||Date Convicted||Regulation||Section||Penalty Provision||Penalty Imposed||Date Sentenced|
|1||PE39794/2018||28 January 2016||28th July 2022||19(1) 19A(2) 23F||3A(3)(b)(i)||$60,000.00||5th August 2022|
|Description of Breach(es)||
Where under a labour hire arrangement work was carried out for remuneration by the victim for a client of the Offender, namely RESOURCE RECOVERY SOLUTIONS PTY LTD, in the course of RESOURCE RECOVERY SOLUTIONS PTY LTD’s trade or business, in relation to matters over which the Offender had the capacity to exercise control, the Offender failed to, so far as practicable, provide and maintain a working environment in which its employee was not exposed to hazards, and by that failure caused serious harm to its employee; contrary to sections 19(1) and 19A(2) when read with s23F of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.
The Offender, Mode 2 Group Pty Ltd (ACN 166 168 823) (Mode 2) is a company that provides project management services in the recycling industry. At the time of the offence, Mode 2 had one client, Resource Recovery Solutions Pty Ltd (Resource Recovery), a company that specialises in recycling waste from construction and demolition sites.
Under the relevant contract, Mode 2 was engaged by Resource Recovery to provide workers to perform work at Resource Recovery’s workplace in Bayswater. Resource Recovery is based at 50 Clune Street in Bayswater where waste material is brought to the workplace by trucks. Sometimes these are tip-trucks that have been loaded by earthmoving machinery at the construction or demolition site. Other trucks deliver skip bins that have been collected from construction and demolition sites.
The main part of the workplace is a very large shed housing an automated recycling plant. Within that shed there are a number of crushers, shredders, oscillators and screeners with the material being moved through the process by a series of conveyors.
The workplace operated over two shifts, a morning shift (6am to 230pm) and a night shift (230pm to 1030pm). After the product is brought to the site and tipped out by trucks, the product is fed into the large, automated recycling plant where it is processed by a series of machines. The purpose of this processing is to separate the material into various products, which are then on-sold by Resource Recovery. Metal objects are removed by magnetised conveyors, and then sold as scrap metal. Lightweight items such as paper and plastic are ‘blown’ off the product stream by high velocity air in machines called the Dense Outs. Small items such as sand and gravel, which are eventually sold for use as road base, are removed from the product stream by screening machinery before reaching a small pre-fabricated hut known as the Picking Station.
In the Picking Station, several workers of the Offender (normally five to six, known as pickers or sorters), manually remove items from the conveyor belts. The pickers would remove anything that was not suitable to go into the machinery, such as plastic, food scraps, paper etc. Items such as bricks, stones and timber are left on the belt to be processed by other machinery further downstream.
After the product passes through the Picking Station, it travels along other conveyor belts. The masonry and rocks go to a part of the factory called Area 5. A large crusher in Area 5 would break up these pieces. One of the conveyor belts in Area 5 was known as the Diversion Belt. In addition to sorting materials inside the Picking Station, the pickers’ job included assisting in the clearing of blockages or jams occurring in the various machines. Due to frequent blockages there was pressure on the workers to get the conveyor belts going following a blockage. Workers had previously removed small rocks from the Diversion Belt system with their hands.
Some conveyor belts at the workplace, such as the Diversion Belt, needed to be visually monitored after having a blockage cleared, to ensure that the entire blockage had been cleared and that the belt was running properly. The conveyors were operated from a control room by a plant operator. The plant operator could not see all areas of the workplace from the control room, including the pickers in the Picking Station and Area 5.
The belts in Area 5 could also be operated separately from a control panel nearby. The procedure was that if one of the workers saw a blocked belt they would press the emergency stop button which would stop all of the belts. Sometimes the belts would stop automatically due to a blockage. The workers would all then move to the area to help remove the blockage. If the blockage was in Area 5 and difficult to identify, the plant operator would go to Area 5 to start up Area 5 from the nearby control panel.
The Day of the Accident
On the night shift of 28 January 2016, all of the Offender’s workers in the Picking Station were of Sri Lankan origin and some did not understand English. The victim was one of the pickers working in the Picking Station.
There had been repeated problems with the belts that afternoon and following another blockage the victim made his way to a belt near the crusher in Area 5 along with the other workers from the Picking Station, as per the usual procedure when a blockage occurred.
The plant operator also attended Area 5.
The blockage was removed from the belt near the crusher but when the plant operator started the belts from the nearby control panel the belts stopped again and it was thought that this time a blockage was affecting the Diversion Belt.
Another worker was standing next to the plant operator by the control panel and the victim and another picker positioned themselves on either side of the Diversion Belt facing it so they could remove the cause of the blockage with their hands. The victim was on the side of the belt closest to the control panel.
The plant operator started the belt again. As he did, the victim reached in to remove a rock. His arm was then dragged into the crush point between the belt and roller and was amputated at the shoulder.
The workers had accessed Area 5 from the Picking Station via a walkway and had passed through a gate just prior to the Diversion Belt. While the gate had a bolt lock fitted the gate was open and was not at the time of the incident part of an interlock system that stopped the conveyors. It was normal for this gate to be open. Many of the workers had never seen this gate closed. There was no guarding around the crush points of the Diversion Belt.
There was no lock out, tag out procedure followed to isolate the moving parts of the plant when removing blockages from the Diversion Belt.
Whenever a blockage occurred it was the usual procedure for the pickers to go to the area of the blockage and assist by using their hands to remove items such as sand and rocks from moving conveyor belts.
The pickers were required to do this on average several times per shift and on occasion up to ten times per shift.
Mode 2 Group had control over its own procedures relating to hazard identification and risk assessment at the workplace.
It was practicable for Mode 2 Group to have conducted an adequate hazard identification and risk assessment prior to placing the victim and other workers at the workplace.
Mode 2 Group did not conduct an adequate hazard identification or risk assessment at the workplace. The director of Mode 2 Group, visually inspected the picking room in which some of the pickers/sorters worked, but he made no record of any hazard identification or risk assessment.
Mode 2 Group’s failure to conduct an adequate hazard identification or risk assessment was substantial contribution to the victim’s injury.
Mode 2 was sentenced on 5 August 2022 following a conviction entered on second day of trial date of 28 July 2022. The Magistrate issued a fine of $60,000 and ordered costs of $15,000
|Court||Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth|
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