Snack food maker fined $80,000 for workplace incident

Thursday, 24 September, 2020

Snack food maker fined $80,000 for workplace incident

Yarra Valley Snack Foods, a Lilydale snack food manufacturer, has been convicted and fined $80,000 after pleading guilty to failing to provide or maintain safe systems of work. This follows a workplace incident in which a worker suffered serious injuries when he was pinned under a corn milling machine in February 2019. The machine, which weighs about 500 kilograms, tipped over and fell on the worker when its roller wheels became jammed in a floor gate as it was being moved for cleaning.

The 26-year-old worker suffered a punctured lung, fractured ribs, fractured leg and ankle, fractured lower back and deep lacerations; he has not returned to work. WorkSafe Victoria inspectors found the company had failed to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury by bolting the machine to the ground, implementing a standard operating procedure for cleaning or installing a work platform next to the machine for cleaning.

WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said the incident could have been avoided if there had been adequate control measures in place.

“This horrific incident is a reminder of what can happen when employers fail to make workers’ safety their number one priority. Employers must ensure they assess all the risks in their workplace and do everything they can to protect their workers, or WorkSafe will not hesitate to take enforcement action,” said Nielsen.

To clean plant and equipment safely, workers must conduct a risk assessment to identify hazards and determine how to remove or control them. A documented procedure must be in place, including on how to power down and isolate equipment. Machines must also be powered down, fully secured and stable before commencing cleaning. Additionally, machinery must be guarded, with its safety interlocks checked regularly. Workers must also be properly trained and supervised so they understand the procedure and the risks associated with the plant and equipment being cleaned.

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