SA company and directors fined over conveyor injury
Tuesday 28 September, 2010
A South Australian brickworks establishment and its operators were recently fined more than $50,000 for a series of breaches of workplace safety laws following an incident in which an employee was trapped by a conveyor belt.
In May 2008, a 21-year-old male employee was working alone at the company’s premises when he became trapped in the unguarded moving parts of a conveyor belt. Unable to access the controls several metres away, he rang 000 on his mobile phone and called out for help. Three workers from a neighbouring site came to his aid.
As a result of the incident, the worker sustained “significant injuries”, resulting in ongoing pain to his right wrist and elbow, along with psychological trauma, according to SA Industrial Magistrate Michael Ardlie.
The company, Salisbury Brick Pty Ltd, failed to assess the safety of any plant or equipment, nor document any safe work procedures or policies including any protocol or contact numbers for employees working alone, said SafeWork SA.
Magistrate Ardlie was also critical of the state of workplace safety at the time of the incident: “The defendants should have been well aware of the risk of entrapment from unguarded conveyor belts … Overall there was a lack of appreciation of the obligations under the legislation.”
He imposed fines of $28,000 and $6,400 on the company and a joint fine of $16,000 on its two directors, Emilio and Italina Bernardi, but noted they are in the process of winding up the company and selling its assets.
The directors had earlier pleaded guilty to breaches of the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 and regulations pertaining to the safety of an employee at work; maintaining communications with an employee working alone; allowing an employee to operate a loader when not being qualified to do so and ensuring a company complies with its safety obligations under the law.