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Prosecution Details

Defendant Challenge Dairy Co-Operative Limited
Regulation [1] 4.37A(2) [2] 4.37(1)(f)
Offence Date Wednesday, 16 July 2003
Description of Breach(es)

[1] On the 16th day of July 2003 at Capel Challenge Dairy Co-Operative Ltd being a person having control of the workplace, where access to plant at the workplace was required for the purposes of cleaning of the plant, failed to ensure that all hazards associated with and all energy sources of the plant were identified and to authorise a person to carry out the matters referred to in regulation 4.37A(2); contrary to regulation 4.37A of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 made under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

[2] On the 16th day of July 2003 at Capel Challenge Dairy Co-Operative Ltd being a person having control of the workplace failed to ensure that every dangerous part of a fixed powered plant was, as far as practicable, securely fenced or guarded in accordance with regulation 4.29 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulation 1996 made under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984; contrary to regulation 4.37(1)(f) of the Regulations.

Background Details

The defendant conducts a dairy products manufacturing business operating out of premises at Capel. The defendant engages staff through a labour hire firm to work in its dairy products manufacturing facility at the premises at Capel.

On 16 July 2003 a person was working at the defendant's premises subject to the defendant's direction and control. The person was cleaning plant known as the Cheese Mellowing Tube using a water hose, his hands and a plastic spatula. The Cheese Mellowing Tube is a piece of plant that is cylindrical, about 8.3m long and a little more than 250mm in diameter. This mellowing tube is fed cheese product, to which salt has been added, by an in-feed auger about 1.2m long and about 250mm in diameter. The Mellowing Tube has a series of inspection covers that run the length of the tube and can be removed for cleaning and maintenance. The in-feed auger extends into the mellowing tube to about the distance of the first inspection cover.

Cleaning of the Cheese Mellowing Tube is a task that must be performed after the end of each cheese production run, usually at least daily, sometimes more often. On the 16 July 2003, while the person was performing this cleaning task he noticed a small piece of cheese hanging on the inside of the machine. He put his hand into an opening in the Cheese Mellowing Tube to get it out and when doing this, part of the rotating auger inside the mellowing tube caught his right glove and pulled his hand into the auger. This resulted in serious injuries to his right hand.

[1] At the relevant time the defendant had done nothing to ensure that the hazards associated with, and all energy sources of the Cheese Mellowing Tube (and in particular the in-feed auger of the Cheese Mellowing Tube) had been identified and had not authorised any person to ensure that any risks associated with any identified hazard was reduced as far as practicable. There was no procedure or system in place to ensure that the mellowing tube and the auger could not be energised and started when it was being cleaned or maintained.

After the injury to the person occurred, the defendant carried out the required hazard identification and introduced an isolation procedure where the Cheese Mellowing Tube is physically locked out and de-energised so that the auger cannot be started when the plant is being cleaned or maintained.

[2] Regulation 4.29 requires that where access is required during normal operation for maintenance or cleaning, guarding should comprise:
- An interlocked physical barrier;
- A physical barrier securely fixed in position by means of fasteners or other suitable devices sufficient to ensure that the guard cannot be altered or removed without the aid of a tool or key for cases where an interlocked barrier is not practicable; or
- If neither guard is practicable the provision of a presence sensing safeguard system.

On 16 July 2003 the part of the in-feed auger that was outside the Cheese Mellowing Tube had a steel mesh cover over it that could be raised and lowered at will. In addition the inspection hatches of the Cheese Mellowing Tube have a solid metal cover that can be opened and closed at will. No special tool was required to open either the steel mesh cover or the inspection hatch cover. No sensing system was in place and neither opening of the inspection hatch cover nor lifting of the steel mesh cover automatically de-energised the auger or stopped it from rotating.

Following the injury to the person the defendant had a micro-switch fitted to the covers so that the auger is automatically de-energised when the cover is lifted. This system does not interfere with the normal operation of the plant and was put in place for minimal cost.

The defendant pleaded guilty to both charges.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 07 Sep 2004
Court Busselton Court of Petty Sessions
Fine [1] $5000 [2] $5000
Costs $178.45
Charge Number 919/04 and 920/04