The defendant company had a business collecting, processing and recycling plastic waste and held duties under s.21 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, to ensure that fixtures, fitting or plant were without risks to the health and safety of workers.
On 16 December 2016 a worker was tasked with operating the D1 plastic extrusion sheetline machine during the night shift. He accessed the rollers of the machine and commenced cleaning the rollers using a cloth and cleaning product. While holding the cloth in his right hand, he started the machine to progress/rotate the rollers. His hand was drawn into the rollers. As a result of the incident, his right hand (dominant) sustained serious crush injuries. After a number of surgeries it was eventually amputated mid-forearm.
On 23 October 2018, the defendant pleaded guilty in the Richlands 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 Stuart Shearer fined the defendant $80,000 and ordered court costs totalling $95.80. In reaching a decision, the Magistrate recognised that the risk had been identified by the defendant in a risk assessment conducted in 2011, and considered the steps taken by the defendant to manage these risks as inadequate. His Honour viewed the fact that the risk was present for a number of years as an aggravating feature. The post incident steps taken were acknowledged, but Magistrate Shearer observed that these steps would only mitigate future risks and will not overcome the loss of Mr Singh's arm. A victim impact statement was provided, but the court opined that it probably understated the extent of impact on the worker. General deterrence was a factor, but his Honour took the view that specific deterrence was necessary as the machine had been unguarded for a long period of time and was modified only after the incident.
In deciding penalty, Magistrate Shearer did not record a conviction, acknowledging the defendant had entered an early plea, had no previous convictions and had remedied the machine.
Considerations for prevention
(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)
When working in the waste and recycling industry where there is exposure to risks from inadequately guarded plant, duty holders should consider the following:
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- Managing the Risk of Plant in the Workplace Code of Practice 2021 section 4.1 Guarding Plant (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 1.02 MB)
- Electricity, gas, water and waste services
- Date of offence:
- Crush Injuries with subsequent amputation of right hand
- Richlands Magistrates Court
- Magistrate Stuart Shearer
- s.32 of the duty under s.21 Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Decision date:
- Maximum Penalty:
- Conviction recorded:
- CIS event number: