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Prosecution Details

Offender Challenge Australian Dairy Pty Ltd


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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 BS1603/07 11 January 2005 8th January 2008 3A(3)(b)(i) $20,000.00 8th January 2008
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, did not so far as was practicable, provide and maintain a working envorinment in which its employes 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

1. At all relevant times the material facts were as set out below.

2. The accused operated a cheese factory at Capel. The cheese factory included a shed that housed machines called the number 1 Wincanton Block Former and the number 2 Wincanton Block Former. These machines formed cheese into blocks by several ram pushing the cheese out through a door and up against a steel plate. There were signs on the machines that said keep hands clear of them.

3. On 11 January 2005 an employee of the accused saw that cheese had built up on the edge of the door of the number 1 former so that the door could not close. This was a common problem which caused the formers to malfunction.

4. The employee had been shown to use a metal bar to scrape the cheese away from the door of each former; however on this occasion he quickly reached into the door to scrape the cheese away with his fingers. Before he removed his left index finger the ram moved back towards the door and trapped the finger between it and the door frame. The tip of his finger was amputated.

5. The injured employee was able to reach into the pinch point of the door and ram of the number 1 former because the pinch point was not guarded.

6. On 7 December 2004, which was about one month prior to the injured employee's accident, another employee's finger was crushed in the same pinch point as the second accident. This employees' finger was treated in hospital for bruising.

7. Near misses from injury caused by the pinch points of the formers are common amongst operators of formers.

8. Within three or four days of the accident on 11 January 2005 a clear perspex guard was fixed by screws over the pinch point of each former. The guards cost about $261.80 each.

9. After the employee's accident and prior to the guards being placed on the formers the accused continued to operate them.

10. One of the accused's competitors, Fonterra Brands Australia has had guards over the pinch point of the same machine for over seven years, and a lock out and tag out system that involves isolating the supply of power to the former before it is accessed for maintenance or cleaning.

11. After the 11 January 2005 accident the accused put a procedure in place which removed the need for its employees to access the pinch points to clean them. High pressure water is now used to clean cheese from the pinch points. The guards do not have to be removed to allow the cheese to be cleaned off the formers.

12. Further, after the 11 January 2005 accidetn the accused put an isolation, lock out and tag out system in place which ensured that when the guard needed to be removed from the pinch points the machine would not be operating, and could not be inadvertently started.

Outcome Summary

Plead Guilty

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Busselton
Costs $1,310.70

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