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Prosecution Details

Offender Western Salt Refinery Pty Ltd


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 Unknown at time of publication 25 February 2005 22nd August 2006 3A(3)(b)(i) $10,000.00 22nd August 2006
Description of Breach(es)

On 25 February 2005 at Hamilton Hill WESTERN SALT REFINERY PTY LTD, being the client of a labour hire agent and where under a labour hire arrangement with the labour hire agent work was carried out for remuneration by a worker for the accused in the course of the accused’s trade or business, failed to provide and maintain, so far as practicable, a working environment in which the worker was not exposed to hazards, being a matter over which the accused had the capacity to exercise control, and by that failure caused serious harm to the worker; contrary to sections 23F, 19(1) and 19A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The accused operates a salt refinery in Hamilton Hill. Approximately 6 people work for the accused in the salt refinery and another 5 people perform administrative tasks in a separate building to the salt refinery. On 25 February 2005 several of those persons were employees of the accused.

At the salt refinery an item of plant known as a waste auger is used to put salt not suitable for consumption into large bags. Workers in the salt refinery are required to operate the waste auger in order to transfer salt into the bags. The motor, v-belts and pulley of the waste auger had, prior to 25 February 2005, been fitted with a guard that was held in place by a chain and bolt.

Prior to 25 February 2005 there had been a number of occasions where the waste auger would become jammed or would otherwise not work properly to transfer salt into the bags. It was accepted regular practice at the salt refinery that workers using the waste auger would, if the waste auger jammed, without isolating the auger from its energy source, unbolt and remove the guard covering the v-belt and pulleys and then try to get the v-belt turning again. From time to time after the guard had been removed and action had been taken to get the v-belt turning again, the guard was not immediately secured back in place.

Prior to 15 February 2005 the accused arranged with a labour hire agent to have the labour hire agent provide a worker to work at the refinery in return for payment by the accused to the labour hire agent. In accordance with that arrangement, on or about 15 February 2005 the labour hire agent sent one of its workers to work at the refinery for the accused in the capacity of a forklift driver and labourer. There was no contract of employment between the accused and the worker.

When the worker commenced work at the refinery on or about 15 February 2005 he was given a general verbal induction to the workplace in relation to emergency evacuation procedures, first aid, accident reporting and location of the facilities at the Workplace by the production manager. He was not shown any written policies or procedures that related to the salt refinery. The accused did not give him any specific instructions in relation to the safe operation of any machinery at the salt refinery.

The worker was instructed that his duties at the refinery included cleaning up waste salt and using the waste auger to transfer salt not suitable for consumption into bags. Prior to 25 February 2005 he had experienced the waste auger jamming or otherwise not operating properly on 5 or 6 occasions. He was aware that other workers got the waste auger going again by tensioning the v-belt.

On 25 February 2005 he took a wheelbarrow of salt to the waste auger and pressed the button to turn the waste auger on. The auger did not commence rotating. The guard for the v-belt and pulleys was not in place and he observed that the top pulley was spinning but the belt was loose and the bottom pulley wasn't spinning. In order to get the waste auger working again, he used his fingers to tension the v-belt. As the v-belt recommenced turning it dragged his fingers into the pinch point between the v-belt and the pulley. As a result the tips of his right index and middle fingers were amputated.

The accused pleaded guilty.

Outcome Summary


Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Fremantle
Costs $440.00

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