The defendant company held duties under s.19 (1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 being a meat processing plant, operating nationally. The facility where the incident occurred, employs over 600 workers.
On 31 October 2013, a worker was working alone cleaning a viscera table, while it was operating, with a high pressure hose. During a final check he found a piece of offcut under the table and attempted to remove it. He slipped and caught his arm in the machinery, resulting in traumatic amputation of his hand and forearm. He also sustained broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder.
On 24 October 2017, the defendant pleaded guilty in the Townville Magistrates Court to breaching s.32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, having failed to meet its work health and safety duties and was sentenced.
Magistrate Steven Mosch fined the defendant $42,500 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $1589.40. The court ordered that no conviction be recorded.
In reaching a decision, the court accepted failures in two areas; inadequate guarding and insufficient supervision. Though the worker had undertaken significant workplace guidance - almost 500 hours of documented training, there was a failure to ensure the written tasks were understood and being complied with. The injured worker maintained he had been shown to clean the table with it running, despite the task description stating otherwise.
Upon sentencing and deciding penalty, the Magistrate noted that this was a timely plea (following a rejected EU), and the defendant had cooperated with the investigation. Further, the defendant was a self-insurer and had paid for the injured worker's prosthetic hand as well as retraining him for a new position, which he now works in full time. The court also acknowledged upgrades made to the plant, by installing fixed mesh over the moving parts of the table, preventing this incident happening again. The defendant retrained the cleaners to ensure the processes were understood. His honour noted general deterrence was therefore a factor to take into account, however noted specific deterrence was not as applicable due to the changes made.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the meat processing industry where there is exposure to risks from amputation injuries from access to moving parts of the plant, duty holders should apply a risk management approach to ensure the selection of suitable control measures.
Risk management involves identifying the hazards, evaluating the consequences and likelihood of harm that may result from the hazard, deciding and implementing control measures to prevent or minimise the level of the risk from the hazard and monitoring the effectiveness of the control measures to ensure they remain working correctly.
When deciding and implementing control measures associated with the risk of serious injury or death, obligation holders should consider:
- Date of offence:
- Traumatic amputation of forearm
- Townville Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Steven Mosch
- s.32 of the duty under s.19(1) Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: