Inadequate guarding that led to a worker severely injuring her arm has cost a major chicken processor dearly.
Turi Foods Pty Ltd, which trades as La Ionica Poultry, was convicted and fined $60,000 in Heidelberg Magistrates’ last week and ordered to pay $3895 in costs.
The company had pleaded guilty to one charge of breaching the 2004 OHS Act by failing to provide and maintain plant that was safe and without risks to health.
The court heard that on 1 July 2014, a worker was injured when her hand became trapped in a gizzard processor at the company’s facility in Thomastown.
The gizzard processor consisted of a chute which pushed chicken waste onto an attached plate for sorting. The worker placed her hand into the chute to remove a chicken giblet and became entangled in the internal rotating mechanism.
She had not been shown how to shut off the processor but her screams alerted a colleague who shut it down. The worker suffered complicated fractures to her right arm as well as skin and finger damage.
A WorkSafe investigation revealed that the processor was not adequately guarded, which allowed the worker to access the rotating parts. A sticker above the machine which warned against entanglement was damaged and not legible.
After the incident, the company installed a mesh guard that extended the chute distance to prevent an operator accessing the giblet rollers. The cost of the new guarding was less than $400.
Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said inadequate guarding of plant and equipment was a major cause of workplace injuries.
“Time and time again, WorkSafe inspectors are called to incidents in which workers have died or suffered serious injuries because guarding was either not up to appropriate safety standards, had been removed or was non-existent,” Ms Williams said.
“Employers who maintain or own machinery and equipment have got to make sure that all moving parts that can have contact with any part of the body have approved physical barriers or guards fitted.
“Just as importantly, all staff, especially inexperienced workers, need to be trained and carefully supervised in the safe use of machinery and equipment.”
Ms Williams said appropriate guarding was the only option.
“If an employer is in any doubt about whether guarding on a machine complies with Victorian OHS standards, they need to seek expert advice.
“In this case, an employee has suffered terrible injuries, and a company has been convicted, fined and its reputation tarnished all for less than $400 in guarding.
“Don’t take the risk. It’s never, ever worth it.”
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email email@example.com or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.