01/08/2008 - 15:03

Grain handling company fined $8000

01/08/2008 - 15:03

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A Fremantle grain handling company has been fined $8000 after pleading guilty in the Fremantle Magistrates Court following a workplace accident.

A Fremantle grain handling company has been fined $8000 after pleading guilty in the Fremantle Magistrates Court following a workplace accident.

Premium Grain Handlers Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace after a worker's hand was badly cut by an auger.

In November 2005, a delivery of canola was made to Premium's North Fremantle premises. The canola was to be transferred to a silo by way of a trough auger.

The auger was turned off and had not been used for some time. The hatch that led to the silo was jammed with grain and grass, and two workers were engaged in removing the material jamming the hatch.

One of the workers climbed to the top of the silos to unblock the ram that opened and closed the hatch.

The workers had two-way radios, and when one of the workers had removed the grain and grass, he used the radio to ask the other worker to turn on the ram to check if it would move.

It did not move, so the worker tried to open it by hand and by tapping on it with a piece of metal, neither of which worked. The man then removed the lid from the trough auger and tried to remove the grass and grain with his hand.

The other man turned on the auger while the worker's left hand was inside, severely lacerating the hand in several places. The man called out, and the other man heard him and turned off the auger.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said today that the case should serve as a reminder of the importance of proper isolation systems in workplaces with hazardous machinery.

"This case is a stark reminder that it is crucial to have strict procedures for isolation and lock-out and tagging of machinery during repair and maintenance work," Ms Lyhne said.

"This situation should have been foreseen because the auger involved regularly became blocked and needed to be cleared, so safe work procedures should have been in place to minimize the risk of this type of incident.

"Many workers have been seriously injured and even killed when equipment or machinery they were working on has been accidentally activated.

"Hence, the basis of any lock-out and tagging system should be that nobody is able to activate machinery while someone else is working on it.

"After this incident, the company did update the isolation and lock-out and tagging instructions in its General Safety Rules Handbook, but too late for the worker whose hand was seriously injured by the moving parts of the auger.

"The company involved has taken action to prevent any repeat of this incident, and it should serve as a reminder to other employers to ensure that safe work procedures are in place to lower the risk of injury."

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