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Prosecution Details

Defendant Urbanstone Pty Ltd
Section 19(1) and 19(7)
Offence Date Monday, 7 July 2003
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 in contravention of Section 19(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and by that contravention caused an employee serious harm; contrary to Section 19(7) of the Act.

Background Details

The defendant manufactures concrete block pavers at its premises in Jandakot. The defendant employs 20 people to operate its several automatic paver manufacturing machines.

The injured employee was one such worker and had been employed by the defendant for about 4 months. He had learned how to use the machine on the job from a fellow worker.

The machines operate in the following way. A hopper pours concrete into a product mould. The flow of concrete from the hopper is controlled by a sliding valve which opens and closes to regulate the flow of concrete. The moulded pavers are then carried away by a conveyor system.

Excess slurry from the hopper spills over from the mould into slurry boxes on either side of the machine. A scoop is used by machine operators to return the slurry from the slurry boxes to the hopper. The scoop rested on the side of the machine but due to the vibrating movement of the machine it was not uncommon for the scoop to fall into the machine itself. This is what happened on 7 July 2003.

The scoop came to rest on a tray below the slurry boxes but above the conveyor system.
Upon seeing the scoop fall into the machine, the employee instinctively reached in with his left hand to retrieve it. At that moment the hopper's sliding valve closed crushing the employee's hand. The valve soon released and the employee was able to remove his hand from the machine and seek assistance. His hand was badly damaged and had to be partially amputated.

The paver manufacturing machine was not properly guarded. The scoop should not have been able to fall into the machine so easily. Workers should not have been able to so easily access the moving parts of the machine. Soon after the accident proper guards were installed on the machines.

The defendant pleaded guilty.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 12 Oct 2004
Court Fremantle Court of Petty Sessions
Fine $7,000
Costs $357.70
Charge Number FR7011/04