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Prosecution Details

Offender Premium Grain Handlers 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 10 November 2005 28th July 2008 3A(2)(b)(i) $8,000.00 28th July 2008
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 contravened sections 19(1) and 19A(3) 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 grain processing, storage, and packaging business. The accused's employees included a Plant Operator, General Manager and Operations Manager.

3. The plant and buildings at the accused's workplace at 12 to 14 Sultan Way in North Fremantle included grain silos known as silos 4, 5 and 6. The silos were joined by a walkway and a long trough auger that ran across the top of them.

4. The trough auger moved the grain into the silos. There was a hatch/gate between each silo and the auger which could be opened or closed with a ram. Access to the inside of the trough auger was prevented by a series of lid like guards that sat along the top of the trough. Each lid contained bolts to secure it in place. The lids were left unbolted because they frequently had to be removed to access the hatch/gate to unjam it. The hatch/gate was unjammed on average between once and twice per month.

5. The accused provided the Plant Operator and Operations Manager with two way radios.

6. On the relevant date a truck delivered canola to the accused's workplace. The canola was to be fed into silo 5.

7. The trough auger on top of silos 4, 5, and 6 was turned off and it had not been used for some time and the hatch/gate to silo 5 was jammed by grain and grass.

8. The Operations Manager climbed to the top of the silos to unjam the ram which opened and closed the hatch between silo 5.

9. The Plant Operator and Operations Manager could not see each other so after the Operations Manager had removed grass and grain from the ram he used his two way radio to ask the Plant Operator to turn on the switch which operated the ram to see if the ram would move. It did not move, so the Operations Manager tried to open it with his hands and by tapping on it with a piece of metal. When this was unsuccessful he used his two way radio to tell the Plant Operator to turn the ram on and off again. As the ram remained stuck the Operations Manager took the unbolted lid off the top of the trough auger and reached into it with his hand to clear more grain and grass away from the ram.

10. Whilst the Operation Manager's hand was inside the trough auger the Plant Operator turned on the auger. The Operation Manager's hand was cut in several places. He called out, the Plant Operator heard him and turned the auger off.

11. The Operation Manager's left hand was severely lacerated.

12. The accused did not take all reasonably practicable measures which were those particularised in the Prosecution Notice to remove or minimise the risk of a further accident until after 20 January 2006 when it was issued with Improvement Notice 80500212 which was issued to it by a WorkSafe Inspector.

13. The accused had printed a booklet titled "General Safety Rules Handbook". The book had been in existence for about 10 years. Page 28 of the book sets out a procedure for isolating the supply of power to a plant and tagging it. It did not provide for the locking out of the supply of power to the machine. Sometime after the offence the accused updated and reprinted this booklet so it did include a lock out procedure.

14. Prior to the accident the accused's employees were not aware of and did not follow the procedure set out in the book. Further, the accused's employees did not have access to, or know where to obtain the tags shown on page 29 in the booklet.

15. On 7 March 2003 a WorkSafe Inspector had issued Improvement Notice 70004876 to the accused. It required the accused to comply with regulation 4.37A(4) of the Regulations by ensuring that a proper isolation, lock out and tag out system was in place. The accused had until 17 April 2003 to comply. The accused advised WorkSafe that it had complied with that notice on 14 April 2004.

Outcome Summary

Plead Guilty

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Fremantle
Costs $1,500.00

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