Smallgoods manufacturer takes corrective measures after $50, 000 fine for machinery injury

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th February 2012

George Weston Foods, one of Australia’s largest food manufacturers, was fined $50, 000 after a faulty machine left a woman with burns to her hands and crush injuries. The company pleaded guilty at Castlemaine Magistrates’ Court to the offence of failing to provide a safe plant.

The incident occurred on July 20, 2010 when the woman was packing frankfurts onto a processing machine. The woman switched the machine off after some plastic wrapping got caught in the guarding. The guarding had been removed, and as the woman was clearing the area, a colleague, who was unaware that the woman was still working, turned the machine back on. The woman’s hand was trapped between a hot plate and the top of the machine.

When investigated, it was revealed that the machine did not comply with Australian standards. The company had been aware of the machinery faults, and subsequently fixed the guarding after the incident.

WorkSafe Manufacturing, Logistics and Agriculture Director, Ross Pilkington, said that the case highlighted the need for proper maintenance of equipment.

“This incident could have been easily prevented if there was an effective lockout-tag out (LOTO) system in place to effectively prevent the accidental starting of machinery,” he said.

Other measures taken by the company since the incident include a full evaluation of its OHS standards on all its sites.