V.I.P. Petfoods (Aust.) Pty Ltd held duties under s.208(2)(b) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 being a person managing or controlling plant in the manufacture of pet food products. If workers need to access areas of plant for maintenance or cleaning while the plant operates, duty holders must ensure that can be done safely through appropriate interlocks or barriers.
On 23 May 2013 a worker was injured when his right arm was caught in the paddle blades of a dry chemical mixer that had a lid but no interlocking mechanism. The worker was trained and had considerable experience. His injuries were not an element of the offence.
V.I.P. Petfoods (Aust.) Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on 23 October 2015 to breaching s. 208 (2) (b) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety obligation and was sentenced.
Magistrate Brian Kilmartin fined the defendant $15 000 and ordered professional and court costs totalling $1286.80. A conviction was recorded.
In reaching a decision, the magistrate took into account this was the third prosecution of the defendant for guarding related incidents. It was noted there was full cooperation with the investigation and an early plea of guilty. The company had recently been sold and there was a change in management with stronger focus on work health and safety, particularly relating to guarding of machinery.
New equipment had been commissioned and installed with the aim of preventing further incidents.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Kilmartin took into account the previous incidents and found the offence serious given an interlocking device was quickly installed post incident. The magistrate was not satisfied that the recording of a conviction would have substantial impact on the defendant's commercial operations and the need for general deterrence was an overriding consideration.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When deciding and implementing control measures associated with the risk of access to moving parts of plant, obligation holders should consider installation of interlocked guards which prevent access during plant operation. The required safety integrity level (SIL) for the interlocked guards will depend on the seriousness of potential injuries if the guard fails – a risk analysis process should be followed to determine this. The interlock prevents the machine from operating unless the guard is in the correct position, eliminating contact with dangerous moving parts.
As well as having effective guarding in place, safe work processes need to be developed, and appropriate training provided for staff to perform their job safely.
- Date of offence:
- Not an element of the offence (humeral fracture, torn tendons and ligaments requiring surgery and grafting)
- Beenleigh Magistrates Court
- Mr Brian Kilmartin
- s. 208(2)(b) Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Decision date:
- $15 000
- Maximum Penalty:
- $30 000
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: