SafeWork NSW puts spotlight on agriculture, farm safety
There are continuing calls for a ‘safety first’ approach across New South Wales farms, after a central NSW man was convicted and fined $50,000 when a worker sustained serious injuries in 2020. Drew Charles McLauchlan who, in a family partnership, operated a business known as Declem Pastoral, was sentenced for breaching section 19/32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to ensure as far as reasonably practicable the health and safety of his workers.
DCS Better Regulation Division Deputy Secretary and NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Natasha Mann said that a then 22-year-old man in the business’s employ had part of his leg severed by an operating, unguarded piece of inground machinery while he was helping to clear grain from a silo. The man was reportedly employed by the family-owned and -operated farm with interests in sheep and beef cattle farming, as well as grain.
“On the day of the incident, the farmhand was shovelling and sweeping grain inside a silo. The defendant had removed floor guards from access points to an inground grain auger, which had a motorised, twisting metal segment that was conveying produce from the silo to a waiting truck,” Mann said.
The court heard that part of the worker’s left leg was severed above the knee when he stepped backwards into one of the grain auger’s unguarded access points. The business offered no formal training for workers and had no documented work system when the incident occurred. During sentencing, the court heard that McLauchlan had expressed sincere remorse following the incident; the business has since developed a safe work procedure for cleaning the silo and operating its grain auger. McLauchlan has the right to appeal the sentence.
“We are asking all New South Wales agribusinesses to be vigilant about their safe work planning, and relentless about ensuring that the management and workforce are properly trained. This is a must if we are to stem the tide of injuries. We are investing in continuous education across industries, including agribusiness, to help ensure workplaces are safe places,” Mann said.
Eligible small businesses in New South Wales can apply for a $1000 rebate after completing online safety training. It’s called Small Business Easy To Do WHS and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. NSW Businesses are urged to visit the SafeWork NSW website twice a week, every week, for the latest news about working safely and any changes associated with legal obligations.
Eligible small businesses in regional NSW, including agribusinesses, can apply for a free workplace advisory visit from experienced, accredited SafeWork inspectors. A silo safety self-assessment check list is also available.
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