A Melbourne-based bakery company was convicted and fined $60,000 after it failed to install a replacement guard on a dough processing machine, which resulted in an incident where a worker had his arm severed.
On Thursday, in Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court, Laurent Boulangerie Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to the charges of failing to provide employees with a safe working environment that is bereft of any risks to health and for failing to maintain a plant that was safe and free of health risks.
Laurent Boulangerie Pty Ltd was ordered to pay $4,473 in costs.
According to the report received by the court, on 1st December 2013, the dough processing machine at the company’s bakery in Braeside was stopped so that the bearing of the conveyor belt of the said machine could be replaced.
Replacing the bearing was successfully done but the guarding under the conveyor was purposely left off by an employer because, he explained, the machine’s regular maintenance work was to done the following day. Personnel were told to keep employees away from the area as the guarding was not put back in place.
The machine’s conveyor belt began clogging that evening due to a wet dough mixture so it was stopped so the rollers and belt could be cleaned. Soon after the machine was turned back on however, an employee who was trying to continue cleaning the conveyor had his arm caught on the rollers. The man’s arm was immediately severed, and he was transported to the hospital after forty minutes of being trapped at the area. The amputated arm could not be reattached at the hospital anymore.
Executive Director of Health and Safety Len Neist of WorkSafe explained how improperly guarded machines were among the leading causes of serious workplace injuries.
The executive director stressed how disastrous a decision it was to deliberately leave the guarding off and that the repercussions of that decision have significantly affected the injured worker and will definitely haunt the colleagues for the rest of their lives.
The WorkSafe executive director reiterated that the guarding was a basic workplace safety measure and should not have been regarded as something to be taken for granted.
He further added that every now and then companies and businesses tell the Court that they have taken the necessary precautionary steps to improve workplace safety after someone dies or gets injured in the workplace, which is by then too late.
Mr. Neist explained that ensuring the safety of workers is a primary obligation of every business, company or organisation in Victoria and that it should be listed as a priority in doing business.