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Prosecution Details

Defendant Peter Gilbert Mackie
Section 3A(3)(a)(i) and 55(1)
Offence Date 14 May 2012
Description of Breach(es)

The Accused was the director of a body corporate guilty of an offence under the Occupational safety and Health Act 1984, where that offence:

  1. Occurred with the consent of the Accused; or

  2. Was attributable to neglect on the part of the Accused.

 

Background Details

GP Mackie and Co Pty Ltd (GP Mackie) is a company which runs three farms in New Norcia region of Western Australia being Mirridong, Mundina and Undernooka Farms.

 The Directors of GP Mackie are Michael Robert MACKIE, Peter Gilbert MACKIE and Ross Douglas Roy FORRESTER.

 As at 14 May 2012 GP Mackie employed three workers. At the time of the incident the victim had worked at GP Mackie for eight years and was employed as a mechanical fitter and carried out farm duties too.

WORKPLACE

The incident occurred at Mirridong farm at 100 Glentromie Rd New Norcia (workplace) in a part of the workplace called Campbells Hill Paddock.

 The workplace is a cattle and hay farm where crops and grains are also grown.

 A sister company also operates at the same workplace, primarily producing hay for export markets. This company has the same directors as GP Mackie.

 The workplace contains and uses various plant and machinery including tractors, tele-handlers, trucks, motorbikes, quad bikes, ploughs and Morris air seeders which have augers attached.

 PROCESS

Air seeders are used to dry seed different varieties of crops in paddocks. Using the Morris 7180 air seeder involves attaching the auger off the side of the air seeder bin. The auger is then position such that the hopper end is on the ground and the other end facing up towards the bins.

 The air seeder has two bins, usually one for seeds and the other for fertilizer. The hose attached to the auger can be moved between the two bins to facilitate the filling of the bins.

 A truck is bought alongside the auger and delivers fertilizer or seeds into the hopper. The fertilizer or seeds then travel up the auger into the air seeder bin.

INCIDENT

On 14 May 2012 an incident occurred where an employee, the mechanical fitter, suffered a partial amputation of three fingers on his left hand after placing his hand after placing his hand into the hopper of an operational auger attached to an air seeder in order to clear a blockage.

 On the day of the incident, the Farm Manager started work on the air seeder and operated it for about 1.5 hours before returning to the office for a meeting with Peter MACKIE.

 Peter MACKIE told the farm manager to get the mechanical fitter to take over from him.

 The incident occurred while the mechanical fitter was auguring fertilizer up into the bin on the air seeder whilst working alone.

 During the process the mechanical fitter thought he saw a piece of rock in the hopper. He stated that he “rather stupidly but instinctively reached for it (the rock) believing he was well out of reach of the flight from the auger”.

 There was no guard fitted to the auger hopper.

 The mechanical fitter suffered partial amputations of the middle three fingers on his left hand and required surgery and rehabilitation.

HAZARD

Unguarded augers are a commonly known hazard in the farming industry.

 At times the guard was intentionally removed from the auger due to the difficulties with fertilizer clumping and not getting through the guard. This was done with the knowledge of Peter MACKIE.

GP Mackie’s sister company had been previously been given ten improvement notices by WorkSafe inspectors between 2005 and 2009 for guarding issues.

 Employees that were exposed to that hazard were at risk of suffering serious injuries such as loss of fingers or permanent loss of use.

 It was practicable for GP Mackie to have used a guard on the auger.

 GP Mackie has since installed a guard on the auger which was made from scrap materials around the farm. There was little cost to the company.

 Mr Mackie is a director of GP Mackie and was personally directing the conduct of GP Mackie and its employees at the workplace on 14th May 2012. As such, the failure of GP Mackie to use a guard on the auger was attributable to neglect on the point of, or occurred with the consent of, Mr Mackie.

 




Outcome Summary

 

The Accused entered a guilty plea and was convicted. The Magistrate fined the Accused $10,000. No order for costs.

 

Conviction Date 08 Jul 2015
Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia- Moora
Fine $10,000.00
Costs No order for costs
Charge Number MO312/15