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January 2020

No emergency stop button nearly killed worker

No emergency stop button nearly killed worker

Worksafe Victoria v RiceGrowers Limited (April 2018)

Facts

Ricegrowers Limited (the Company) is a business that sources, processes and trades rice. The Company also manufactures rice food products used in stockfeed, and imports and distributes specialty food products.

On 6 September 2014, a worker was killed while performing maintenance inside a surge bin at the Company’s workplace when a screw conveyer at the base of the bin began operating.

Judgment

The Court heard that there were two switches that could be activated to isolate the screw conveyor. One of these switches was in the area of the surge bin. The second switch was in the electrical control room.

The Company failed to ensure that there was an emergency stop button located within reach of the access plate that would enable a confined space observer to isolate the screw conveyor in the event of operation during maintenance.

As a result, the Company pleaded guilty, was convicted and fined $260,000.

Lessons

This case emphasises the importance for employers to provide the necessary safety additions to plant on the worksite, in particular, emergency stop buttons.

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