Work­place hor­ror

North Coast Times - - LET'S EAT -

A NOWERGUP lime­stone com­pany has ad­mit­ted it had a hazardous work­place when an em­ployee suf­fered hor­rific in­juries af­ter be­com­ing en­tan­gled in a ma­chine that tried to “make a block out of him” last year.

Lime­stone Build­ing Blocks Com­pany Pty Ltd faced Joon­dalup Mag­is­trates Court on Fe­bru­ary 2, plead­ing guilty at its first hear­ing to fail­ing “to pro­vide and main­tain a work­ing en­vi­ron­ment at a mine where em­ploy­ees are not ex­posed to haz­ards”.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened on Jan­uary 25, 2017, at the Hop­kins Road plant.

A Depart­ment of Mines and Petroleum prose­cu­tor told the court a young fork­lift driver was at­tempt­ing to re­move residue from a block mak­ing ma­chine when he trig­gered a sen­sor that ac­ti­vated the build­ing process.

“The ma­chine thought he was ag­gre­gate and pro­ceeded to at­tempt mak­ing a block out of him,” he said.

“The crit­i­cal risk… is the ma­chine be­ing in au­to­matic while some­one is ac­cess­ing the ma­chine in­side.”

The vic­tim suf­fered mul­ti­ple se­vere in­juries, in­clud­ing par­tial am­pu­ta­tion of his right leg, a frac­tured pelvis and wounds to his liver and kid­neys. He was air­lifted to hos­pi­tal. The prose­cu­tor said the ma­chine’s “cap­ture key sys­tem” was an­other crit­i­cal el­e­ment to the case.

The ma­chine re­quired two keys to ac­ti­vate. For safety rea­sons, only one key was ever meant to be left in it, but on this oc­ca­sion both keys had been left in the ma­chine.

The com­pany’s lawyer, who said the own­ers were “mor­ti­fied by the event”, ar­gued that while they was plead­ing guilty, some of the onus had to be placed on the em­ployee too.

He claimed the young man had been “told never to go in the ma­chine”.

“We say he en­tered with­out any author­ity… it wasn’t his job to en­ter the ma­chine,” he said.

He said the com­pany had since spent more than $1 mil­lion im­prov­ing safety stan­dards. They were on good terms with the em­ployee. “The com­pany is very re­morse­ful,” he said. “They keep in con­tact with this em­ployee… they will of­fer him a job again (when he has re­cov­ered).

“The com­pany worked very closely and tire­lessly with the Worksafe in­spec­tors.”

Mag­is­trate Deen Pot­ter said he would need time to con­sider the par­ties’ sub­mis­sions and would sen­tence the com­pany on Fe­bru­ary 16.

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