Fruit processor cut with $25K fine following worker injury
A Victorian fruit processor has been fined $25,000 and ordered to pay $3592 in costs after a worker’s finger was partially severed by moving machinery. The casual employee was attempting to flick a piece of fruit from a conveyor belt while cleaning an operating packing line when her finger was caught between the conveyor and a metal edge, according to WorkSafe Victoria.
As a result, SPC Ardmona Operations Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to ensure guarding prevented access to a dangerous area of a plant. SPC Ardmona immediately installed guarding to cover the gap between the conveyor and the edge and provided employees with additional training following the incident.
WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said no worker should be exposed to the risk of injury when cleaning machinery.
“This worker has been left with permanent injuries that would have been avoided if appropriate guarding had been in place,” Nielsen said. “The risks of exposing workers to moving machinery are well known and WorkSafe will not hesitate to take action against employers who fail to do all they can to eliminate or reduce these.”
To prevent similar incidents, workers and employers should ensure: machines are powered down and fully secured before cleaning begins, workers are properly trained and supervised so they understand the risks associated with the equipment being cleaned, machinery is properly guarded and safety interlocks are regularly checked and that warning lights and sounds are working, WorkSafe Victoria advised.
Additionally, where reasonably practicable, employers should ensure any conveyor system has a lanyard-type emergency stop system that will allow a person working anywhere along a conveyor to gain immediate access to the emergency stop. If a lanyard-type emergency stop cannot be installed, employers should install interlocked guarding along the length of the conveyor.
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