skip navigation

Prosecution Details

Defendant Wespine Industries Pty Ltd
Section 21(1)(b) and 21(3)
Offence Date Thursday, 29 May 2003
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer failed to ensure, so far as was practicable, that the safety or health of persons not being its employees were not adversely affected as a result of the work in which it or any of its employees were engaged, and by that failure caused serious harm to a person; contrary to sections 21(1)(b) and 21(3) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The defendant operates a large timber mill from premises on Moore Road, Dardanup. The defendant employs a number of employees and also engages, a labour supply business (the agency), to supply some personnel.

On 29 May 2003 an employee of the agency, was working at the defendant's timber mill in Dardanup under the supervision and control of the defendant. The employee was instructed to work in what is known as the dry mill and was involved in work cutting large planks into small strips to be used as packing between good timbers when stacking. The work involved feeding the planks through a danckaert, which cuts the planks into strips of about 3600 x 35 x 10 mm. The strips then drop onto a moving belt that moves them onto the main table. The strips are then gathered into bundles of 5-12 strips and manually fed through a Feng Sheng docking saw to but cut down to lengths of 700 - 750mm. The short strips are then taken from the saw bed and stacked on mobile pallets. This work involved 4 people. One on the danckaert, one gathering the strips into bundles (standing to the left of the docking saw) one operating the docking saw and one taking the cut strips from the other side of the docking saw and placing them onto the pallets (standing to the right of the docking saw).

A Feng Sheng docking saw has a rotating blade, which, once the machine is turned on, is always rotating within the body of the saw. When the saw is activated a clamp comes down to hold the wood in place and the saw blade rises up out of the body of the saw to cut the wood. Once initiated this cutting action cannot be stopped. The defendant's docking saw is operated by a two handed system which requires the operator to place each hand on a button on either side of the docking saw and thus making it impossible for the operator to inadvertently have his hand in the blade area when the saw is operated.

On 29 May 2003 the worker was working in the position to the left of the docking saw, feeding bundles of strips into the docking saw to be cut. At one point there was a backlog of strips moving through the docking saw so the person who had been operating the danckaert left his position in order to assist in the docking saw process. This person came to stand on the left of the employee in order to assist in gathering bundles of strips to pass onto the employee who then fed them into the docking saw. The docking saw was operated by another person. All 4 people were working very rapidly in order to clear the backlog of strips.

The four people had been working around the docking saw for about three quarters of an hour when the worker slipped and placed his hand in the area of the docking saw between the clamp and the blade. The person who was operating the saw thought the blade area was clear and operated the blade. The worker's four fingers and thumb of his left hand were completely severed.

The serious injury to the worker occurred as a consequence of the system of work employed by the defendant, which placed 4 people within close proximity to the saw blade. If the defendant had a system of work in place that ensured only the person operating the docking saw was within close proximity to the saw, the injury to the defendant would not have occurred.

After the injury to the worker occurred, the defendant put in place a guardrail around the docking saw and a system of work that required only one person to be within the guardrail while the saw was being operated.

The defendant pleaded guilty.

On 31 January 1996 the defendant was convicted in the Bunbury Court of Petty Sessions for breaching regulation 402(1) of the Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Regulations 1988, fined $3000 and ordered to pay costs of $1693.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 01 Apr 2005
Court Bunbury Court of Petty Sessions
Fine $25,000
Costs $728.45
Charge Number 2960/04