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Prosecution Details

Defendant Chiquita Mushrooms Pty Ltd
Trading Name Not Applicable
Section 19(1)(a) and 19(6)
Regulation Not Applicable
Offence Date Thursday, 20 August 1998
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed so far as was practicable to provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards and in particular failed to provide and maintain plant such that, so far as was practicable, its employees were not exposed to hazards.

Background Details

The defendant is a mushroom growing company. On the afternoon of 20 August 1998 the injured employee with another employee, was mixing a batch of compost and mushroom spawn in a mobile mixing machine. At the end of one batch the injured employee climbed onto a mesh lid of the mixing machine, reached across to the control panel and stopped the machine from mixing. He then pushed the "empty" button to allow the mixing blades to rotate in the opposite direction. He then walked across the top of the machine on the wire mesh and pulled, or attempted to pull, back a lever which would open the back gate and allow the batch to empty from the machine.

As he turned to walk back across the machine he stumbled and fell, his right leg went through an opening in the wire mesh and became entangled with the mixing paddles. The other employee immediately turned the machine off. The injured employee was freed from the machine by the fire brigade 45 minutes later.

His Worship Mr Brown SM stated the "the difficulty in dealing with matters such as this, where the employee was recently appointed and inexperienced, is that while the level of training and supervision provided is a relevant factor in sentencing, the nature of the work and its inherent risk level also needs to be taken into account. I therefore proceed on the basis that the duty on employers as to maintaining a safe system of work remains constant throughout the working day and that the employer must assess the risks for both new and longstanding employees."

His Worship indicated that, but for an early plea, a penalty of $10,000 would have been appropriate.

The defendant pleaded guilty. The penalty was imposed under section 19(6).

Outcome Summary


Conviction Date 26 Nov 1999
Court Fremantle Court of Petty Sessions
Fine $7,500
Costs $642
Charge Number FR99/7159