Victorian meat processor fined for severe hand injury
Diamond Valley Pork, a pork processor based in Laverton, Victoria, has been convicted and fined $130,000 for failing to adequately guard plant, after a worker was seriously injured when his arm became trapped in a waste chute in January 2019. The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard the worker was operating a casing machine when a knife fell into an offal waste chute and he reached in to retrieve it, thus trapping his arm and causing it to be crushed by a pneumatic ram situated 45 cm below the chute that pushed the waste into a disposal area.
The worker’s hand was able to be reattached, but he remained off work due to medical complications with his rehabilitation. The pork processor had identified the risk prior to the incident and installed a guard above the opening of the offal chute, but it was inadequate, as it still allowed employees to access the danger area.
Immediately after the incident, the company installed a different guard that prevented access to the danger area below the waste chute. Julie Nielsen, Executive Director of Health and Safety at WorkSafe Victoria, said employers must ensure the highest level of protection around plant and machinery, and that it should not be left to the discretion of workers.
“This includes the fitting of appropriate guards or barriers so moving parts cannot be touched or accessed while the machine is operating,” Nielsen said.
To manage risks, employers should identify hazards, assess the risks associated with them and eliminate or control those risks by isolating them or using an alternative. Employers are also encouraged to train staff in the operation of machines and equipment and provide written procedures in the worker’s first language. Employers should also develop and implement safe operating procedures in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives, and ensure safety guards and gates are compliant and fixed to machines at all times. Machines and equipment should also be regularly serviced and inspected, with signs placed on or near machines to alert employees of the dangers of operating them.
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