WorkSafe Tasmania actively enforces the law, prosecuting alleged offenders under the prosecutions framework.
Where there has been a successful prosecution but an order was made that no conviction was to be recorded, we have removed information from the court summary to avoid breach of the court's order and infringement of the Sentencing Act 1997.
Fruit processer severely cuts finger; dried fruit company convicted and fined
A casual worker employed by dried fruit company Forager Foods Pty Ltd was directed to slice bananas using a vegetable cutter machine, along with two other workers.
The casual worker had not used the machine before, nor had she received any training in safe operating procedures or how to use the machine. One of the other workers was experienced using the machine, but had not formally received any instruction in the safe operating procedures or been signed off as competent to use the machine.
The casual worker observed the experienced worker operate the machine before she had a go and began feeding bananas into the machine’s conveyor belt. The machine’s chute began to get sticky from the banana, so the casual worker put her hands into the chute to clean the fruit.
The casual worker severely lacerated one of her fingers. She needed surgery to repair tendon and ligament damage. She has not regained full use of her finger, and suffers anxiety, depression and complex regional pain as a result of the injuries she sustained.
Inspectors from WorkSafe Tasmania investigating the incident found:
- there was a lack of information and instruction provided about the hazards and risks associated with the machine. For example, the machine’s standard operating procedures stated ‘keep hands out of machine’, but the workers did not know about this requirement
- there was a lack of training and supervision provided to ensure the worker knew how to operate the machine safely
- there were no warning signs displayed on the machine
- the chute was not adequately guarded.
The investigation also found that Forager Foods had notable deficiencies in its safety management systems, especially in risk management and training/supervision/information.
Forager Foods Pty Ltd was charged with one count of failing to comply with a health and safety duty: Category 2 contrary to Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.
It pleaded guilty and was convicted and fined $40,000 plus court fees.
Electrician severely injured; electrical company convicted and fined
Artec Synergy was engaged to complete electrical work as part of a renovation at a Launceston café.
On 20 November 2018, Robert Neighbour, the director/owner of Artec Synergy, went to the café to complete the installation of an alarm keypad.
Mr Neighbour set up a ladder to gain access to the work area. He subsequently fell off the ladder from a height of 3 metres. He sustained a serious head injury requiring long-term rehabilitation. The fall also caused traumatic impact to café staff and members of the public who witnessed the fall.
WorkSafe Tasmania’s investigation found the ladder used:
- was made for domestic purposes, not industrial/work uses
- was placed with the feet — which were not slip resistant — on a sloping polish cement floor
- was placed excessively away from the wall (twice the recommended distance), causing it to be in a precarious and unsafe set up
- was not tied off or secured
- had a damaged rung which could result in serious injury used.
The investigation also found Mr Neighbour did not consider the work to be high risk, so did not create a safe work method statement, which is required for working at heights that involves the risk of someone falling more than two metres.
The investigation recommended that:
- staff be re-trained in the safe use of ladders and the risks of working at height
- safe work method statements be written and used
- the damaged ladder be removed from service and an industrial ladder be used, and used correctly
- an overall safe system of work to manage the risk of falls be implemented.
Artec Synergy Pty Ltd (as the Trustee for Artec Synergy Unit Trust) was charged with:
- one count of failing to ensure the preparation of a safe work method statement (contrary to reg 299 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012)
- one count of failing to reduce the risk of a fall by providing adequate fall protection (contrary to reg 79(2) of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012).
It pleaded guilty to both charges, and was fined $3,500 for each charge, totalling $7,000.
Plumbing company convicted and fined
Machos Pty Ltd (trading as Nu Jet) has been fined $50,000 for a Category 2 offence under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.
On 22 January 2018, a worker from Machos Pty Ltd struck an underground extra high voltage electrical cable with a pneumatic rock breaker while working on the roadway in front of 282 Argyle Street North Hobart. The subsequent flash ignited oil in the cable, causing the oil to burn.
The worker received burns to his face, both hands and torso. He was treated initially on site and admitted to hospital where he made a full recovery and returned to work.
The WorkSafe Tasmania investigation found the company:
- failed to undertake an adequate risk assessment and failed to provide adequate supervision
- failed to notify TasNetworks of the work it was undertaking, so TasNetworks could provide onsite supervision.
Machos Pty Ltd was charged with one count of failing to comply with a health and safety duty (category 2). It entered a guilty plea and was fined $50,000.
Abattoir convicted and fined
JBS Australia Pty Ltd was prosecuted and fined $150,000 after a worker fell into a wash bath filled with hot water, causing serious injuries.
On 23 November 2016, a worker was performing his normal tasks in the offal/tripe room at the JBS Australia Pty Limited plant at Longford. He noticed the tripe had not fallen through the provided hole, but was still in the chute on top of the cooker.
In order to get the tripe into the cooker, the worker tried to dislodge it with a steel pole. When that was unsuccessful, he decided to use his hands. So he climbed up onto the edge of the pre-wash tub (that was full of hot water) and stepped onto the edge of the pre-wash basket that was immersed in the pre-wash tub. As he was manoeuvring the tripe through the hole into the cooker, he lost his footing and slipped into the tub of hot water, which was determined to have been 82 degrees Celsius.
The worker’s gumboots immediately filled with hot water, causing second and third degrees burns to both his legs from the knees down (including both feet).
JBS Australia Pty Limited was convicted and fined for:
- failing to comply with a health and safety duty: Category 2 under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (fine of $130,000)
- failing to consult with workers pursuant to section 47 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (fine of $20,000).
Crane company convicted and fined, crane driver receives suspended jail sentence
Pfeiffer Cranes Pty Ltd and one of its crane drivers, Glenn Gault, were prosecuted after Gault’s negligence caused a 1.9 tonne load of plaster to fall onto an Island Block and Paving Pty Ltd worker, causing serious injuries.
Pfeiffer Cranes was fined $50,000 and convicted and Gault received a 6 month suspended jail sentence.
On 7 April 2017, a worker of Island Block and Paving was working with a builder on a construction site in Trevallyn. A crane was being used to lift pallets of plaster to the first floor of the building under construction. The lifting was complicated when the builder asked the plaster to be placed further away from the crane.
The crane has a safety system stopping the crane from moving when it senses it has reached 75% of capacity. When the crane reaches 100% of its capacity, alarms and lights also sound, which are visible both inside and outside of the crane.
The crane driver Gault overrode the safety system. On the fourth lift, while the load was being extended, the weight of the load caused the crane to fail and the boom to collapse, trapping the worker under the load. He sustained serious injuries.
A WorkSafe Tasmania investigation found the manual override had been used on more than 100 prior occasions.
Pfeiffer Cranes Pty Ltd was charged with:
- one count of failing to comply with health and safety duty: Category 2 contrary to Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012
- one count of failing to comply with health and safety duty: Category 3 contrary to Section 33 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.
Glenn Gault was charged with:
- one count of failing to comply with health and safety duty: Category 1 contrary to Section 31 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012
- one count of failing to comply with health and safety duty: Category 2 contrary to Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.