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Details of successful prosecution against E164833

Incident description

The defendant’s company specialises in the production of bread products. The company owned and operated a large number of plant, including a lavash bread production line conveyor system.

As bread dough tracked along a conveyor belt, it was cut by blades to a predetermined size.
The injured workers' duties involved trimming excess bread and removing it from the lavash bread product prior to packaging.

The worker was instructed to remove the excess dough built up on the cutting blades by lifting the guard covering the blade. In this instance, the worker lifted the guard to access some bread dough while the machine continued to operate. The worker received a blade strike to his hand and as a result, two of his fingers were partially amputated.

Court result

The defendant pleaded guilty in the Richlands Magistrates Court on 6 November 2014 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 Mr Barry Cosgrove fined the defendant $80 000 and ordered professional and court costs totaling $1083.50. He also made a s.239 order that the defendant not offend against the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for a period of 12 months, with a recognisance in the sum of $50 000 to be forfeited if convicted of such an offence within this period. No conviction was recorded.

In reaching a decision, the magistrate noted the gravity of the breach was the lack of adequate guarding that permitted the worker to lift the guard and access the cutting blade while the machine operated and that the worker was instructed to carry out this dangerous procedure; a task that occurred on a regular basis.

He noted a reasonable person would have seen this hazard as obvious. He considered there needed to be an element of general deterrence in any penalty imposed. The magistrate also noted the defendant had a very similar previous incident on 31 December 2010 when a worker received a blade strike to his hand (grieves bodily harm injury sustained) from an unguarded item of plant. In that incident the worker was also instructed to place his hand inside the plant to circulate the bread dough product as the machine continued to operate.   

In deciding penalty, Magistrate Mr. Barry Cosgrove took into account the defendant had been prosecuted previously for a work health and safety breach, though they had cooperated with the investigation and entered an early plea of guilty.

Considerations for prevention

(commentary under this heading is not part of the court's decision)

A person conducting a business or undertaking should identify and control foreseeable risks associated with the operation, maintenance and cleaning of plant and equipment.

Guards should be fitted to plant and equipment to prevent or minimise injuries.
There are four main types of guarding that can be used:

  1. permanently fixed guards - cannot be removed as they are built into the body of the machine.
  2. fixed guards - can only be removed with a specialised tool
  3. interlocking guards - prevent the machine from operating unless the guard is in the correct position
  4. presence-sensing guards - shut down the machine when it senses a person or object in a certain area.

Before servicing or cleaning plant you should de-energise and isolate the machine. A tag and lock-out system should also be used so that it can’t accidently be turned back on and started during maintenance.

For further guidance on the use of guarding as a control measure refer to section four of the Managing risks of plant in the workplace Code of Practice 2013 (the code). For guidance on cleaning and maintenance of plant, refer to section 3.7 of the code.


Date of offence:
Partial amputation of two fingers
Richlands Magistrates Court
Mr Barry Cosgrove
s.32 of the duty under s.19 of Work Health and Safety Act 2011
Decision date:
Fined $80 000 with a good behavior bond for a period of 12 months with a recognizance of $50 000 (per the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992)
Maximum Penalty:
$1 500 000
Conviction recorded:
CIS event number:
Last updated
02 July 2018

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