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Prosecution Details

Defendant Ball Noodle Manufacturing Pty Ltd
Section 19(1) and 19(6)
Offence Date Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, did not so far as was practicable, provide and maintain a working environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards and by that failure contravened sections 19(1) and 19(6) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

On 1 December 2004 the Accused operated a business manufacturing noodles in its factory at Hamilton Hill. The noodle ingredients were mixed to form dough that was then placed in the noodle-making machine. The machine consisted of a series of conveyors.

On 1 December 2004 the employee was instructed to work in the area of the Accused's factory known as the tray feed section. She had worked in the tray feed section of the factory on one prior occasion. She had been employed by the Accused for about 4 weeks.

In the tray feed section of the factory trays of noodles were carried along on a conveyor until they fell off the end of the conveyor onto a lower conveyor belt. The lower conveyor belt then carried the trays of noodles to where they were snap frozen. The end of the conveyor from which the trays of noodles fell was known as the depositor. It housed a steel spindle that rotated around and moved the conveyor system.

The employee's job was to make sure that the noodle trays on the lower conveyor belt did not jam. While working in the tray feed section, the employee saw that noodles had fallen out of the trays and stuck to the stainless steel spindle of the depositor. She put her right hand into the rotating stainless steel spindle at the end of the depositor to remove the noodles. When she did this her right arm became trapped in the spindle and was wound around inside of it so that the bones fractured.

The conveyor continued to operate until another employee pushed a button that although unlabeled she knew would stop the conveyor. The employee's arm was trapped in the spindle until the other employees were able to obtain specific tools to undo parts of the conveyor and free her arm. There was no guard on the conveyor's spindle. The spindle was supplied to the Accused with a lid that clipped onto the section of the conveyor that housed the spindle, however it had been removed. The lid was later found in another part of the factory.

Within 7 days of the incident the Accused had installed a guard over the spindle which if raised will immediately stop the conveyor and sound an alarm and can only be removed by use of a specialised tool, erected signs in English that warn of the danger of placing body parts into the moving parts of the conveyors, marked the emergency stop button so that it can be identified, and trained its employees in the machine safety.

The Accused pleaded guilty.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 19 May 2006
Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Fremantle
Fine $10,000
Costs $500