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January 2020

Failing to adequately guard a machine results in worker injury

Failing to adequately guard a machine results in worker injury

WorkSafe Victoria v Pinnacle Bakery & Integrated Ingredients Pty Ltd (2017)

Facts

Pinnacle Bakery & Integrated Ingredients Pty Ltd (the Company) manufactures and distributes bakery products across Australia. One of its manufacturing plants contained an item of plant called the ‘Small Rademaker Depositor Machine’. The machine places a set amount of filling into pastry cases. There was a risk to workers of entrapment, entanglement and crushing as access to moving danger areas of the plant had not been eliminated.

On 2 December 2015, a worker was injured when he reached into the hopper to clear a blockage of product after noticing the filling was not dispensing equally into the pastry casings. The incident resulted in amputation to the tips of three of his fingers.

Judgment

The Court found that the Company had failed to assess the machine for risks and adequately guard the machine at areas of the plant that allowed access to moving danger points.

The employer also failed to provide the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to the worker about accessing the machine. There was evidence that the machine had been malfunctioning but the worker was not aware of this because the allocated supervisor had left the area.

The Company pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a fine of $40,000 and to pay costs of $3,974.

Lessons

The case demonstrates the importance of businesses remaining vigilant with plant and equipment that can pose an entrapment risk. Commonly, these occur when the equipment is being serviced, is malfunctioning or is being cleaned. Effective safeguards need to be in place, including interlock devices and guarding. Proper instructions to all workers who have access to the equipment is also critical.

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