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Prosecution Details

Defendant Fero Industries Pty Ltd
Trading Name Not Applicable
Section 19(1)(d) and 19(7)
Regulation Not Applicable
Offence Date Tuesday, 15 December 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 in that insofar as it was not practicable to avoid the presence of hazards at the workplace, namely the splatter of explosion of molten zinc, it failed to provide such adequate personal protective clothing and equipment to its employees as was practicable to protect them against those hazards.

Background Details

The defendant operates a business which galvanises steel components by dipping them into a bath containing molten zinc. The items to be dipped are placed into various chemical baths before being submerged into the molten zinc bath as shown in the photograph.

Whilst the components are being lowered, workers take shelter in a booth with a reinforced glass window. However when the items are submerged, workers are occasionally required to manually skim the surface of the molten zinc bath with a metal scraper in order to remove ash and other impurities which would otherwise adhere to the item being dipped as it is lifted out of the bath.

On 15 December 1998 two employees were lowering a large steel beam into the molten zinc bath. As the steel beam made contact with the molten zinc, it appears that moisture trapped between the plates on the beam expanded violently causing an explosion. As a result, molten zinc flew out of the bath onto the employees.

One of the employees had his clothing and hair set alight and received burns to about 27% of his body. The other employee received burns to his back and lower arms and was off work for a couple of weeks.

The defendant did not provide adequate personal protective clothing. It would have been practicable for the defendant to provide his employees with face shields, long sleeved heavy duty cotton shirts, cotton trousers, steel capped safety boots and leather safety gloves. Since the accident the company now provides these items of personal protective clothing.

His Worship, Mr Lawrence SM, indicated that this was a serious matter and that the company had a clear duty to ensure that its workers were not exposed to hazards associated with the galvanising operation. His Worship accepted that this was not a case of the company cost cutting but rather was due to a lack of knowledge. His Worship also accepted that the company had no previous record and had taken steps since the accident to address the issue. Nevertheless, a worker was permanently injured as a result of the companyÆs failure to fulfil its obligations and the penalty imposed by His Worship sought to include a general deterrent.

The defendant pleaded guilty. The penalty was imposed under section 19(7).

Lead Image
Outcome Summary


Conviction Date 15 Feb 2000
Court Perth Court of Petty Sessions
Fine $20,000
Costs $642
Charge Number 40034/99