Food company fined $80,000 after worker crushed

Yarra Valley Snack Foods Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court on September 10 after pleading guilty to failing to provide or maintain safe systems of work.

The court heard the machine, which weighs about 500 kilograms, tipped and fell on the worker when its roller wheels became jammed in a floor grate 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 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 Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said the life-changing injuries the worker suffered 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,” Ms Nielsen said.

“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.”

Tips for cleaning plant and equipment safely:

  • Undertake a risk assessment to identify any hazards and assess how to remove or control them.
  • Have a documented procedure in place, including on how to power down and isolate equipment.
  • Ensure machines are powered down, fully secured and stable before cleaning begins.
  • Ensure machinery is properly guarded and safety interlocks are regularly checked.
  • Ensure workers are properly trained and supervised so they understand the procedure and the risks associated with the plant and equipment being cleaned.

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