14/07/2020 - 13:00

Bayswater company negligent over arm amputation

14/07/2020 - 13:00

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A waste recycling company in Bayswater has been found guilty of gross negligence following an incident that left one of its workers maimed.

Bayswater company negligent over arm amputation
The Perth Magistrates Court has found Resource Recovery Solutions guilty of gross negligence.

A waste recycling company in Bayswater has been found guilty of gross negligence following an incident that left one of its workers maimed.

Resource Recovery Solutions was found guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court last Friday for failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment for one of its labour hire workers, whose arm was amputated at the shoulder during an incident in 2016.

WorkSafe, which investigated the incident, said the employee's arm was caught in the crush point between a conveyer belt and roller at Resource Recovery's automated recycling plant.

The employee had been working as a 'picker', whose job is to manually remove unsuitable items from conveyor belts and to clear blockages or jams in various machines.

WorkSafe said the worker was attempting to remove a rock when the conveyor had restarted.

There was no guarding around the crush points of the belt, and there was no lockout tag out procedure followed to isolate the moving parts of the plant when removing blockages, WorkSafe said.

Resource Recovery faces a penalty of up to $500,000, with the sentence to be handed down at a later date.

WorkSafe commissioner Darren Kavanagh said the gross negligence verdict was significant.

“This decision is important as it is the first time an entity has been found guilty of gross negligence under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the most serious offence possible under that Act,” Mr Kavanagh said.

He said Resource Recovery had a long history of flouting workplace safety laws, including an incident in 2013 involving the death of one of its employees.

The worker was killed after an overloaded roof panel collapsed on him.

Resource Recovery was fined $85,000 in the Magistrates Court in 2016 over the incident.

Mr Kavanagh said WorkSafe inspectors had previously found numerous unguarded conveyor belts at the workplace, and subsequently issued an Improvement Notice to the company, which required guarding to be installed on crush points of the belts.

"This was not complied with despite several reminder letters being sent to the employer," Mr Kavanagh said.

“The company director advised that the notice had been complied with, but this worker had his arm literally torn off by an unguarded conveyor belt.

“The employer in this case has continued to disregard the safety of workers by allowing them to work with conveyor belts with unguarded crush points even after numerous incidents at that workplace."

The Magistrate said in her decision the disregard for safety was blatant and went well beyond mere neglect.

“The Magistrate concluded beyond reasonable doubt that the company acted or failed to act in disregard of the likelihood of causing death or serious harm to a person to whom a duty was owed," Mr Kavanagh said.

“This complete disregard for worker safety is the precise reason we have gross negligence provisions in the state’s workplace safety laws, and this case should send out a strong warning to all employers to protect the safety of their workers.”

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