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Prosecution Details

Defendant Staff Link Pty Ltd
Section 19(1) and 19(7)
Offence Date Thursday, 29 January 2004
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, did not so far as 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(7) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Background Details

The accused is in the labour hire business and pursuant to a contract with Pinetec Limited supplied labour to it. Pinetec Limited was engaged in timber milling, treatment and processing, which in some cases involved the manufacture of timber products. This work is carried out in the Pinetec Limited's timber mill and factory.

The working environment within which the accused's employees worked at the timber mill included a series of conveyors, which carried wood between various machines in the timber mill. At the date of the alleged offence the accused had only ever carried out one inspection at the timber mill. It was carried out on 24 July 2003.

As a result of the visit to Pinetec Limited on 24 July 2003 the following forms were completed: Client Safety Check List, Client Safety Management Systems, Risk Ranking and Hazard Identification Sheet. The documents did not refer to the risk associated with the exposed moving parts of the conveyor, the chance that an employee's body part may be pulled into the conveyor, or how that risk could be mitigated or removed.

On 10 March 2003 the accused was issued with Improvement Notice Number 7000 4888 pursuant to section 48 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

On 6 January 2004 the accused was issued with Improvement Notice Number 875 00028 pursuant to section 48 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

An employee of the accused was to work at the mill pursuant to a labour hire agreement between the accused and Pinetec Limited. His duties included cleaning the inside of timber mill and clearing blockages in the conveyors. On 13 October 2003 the employee was asked to read and sign an Induction Form Casual Day Shift document, Safety Guidelines for Casuals and a Standard Operating Procedures for Sawmill Bandsaws which he did. None of these documents referred to a procedure for the cleaning of the conveyor.

On his first day at work for the accused the employee was introduced to the cleaning supervisor at the timber mill. The supervisor showed him how to clear blockages from the conveyors in the timber mill. On 29 January 2004 at about 6pm he was carrying out his cleaning duties in the saw mill when he noticed that the conveyor that transported oversized woodchips back around to the wood chipper was blocked.

He tried to unblock the conveyor in the way that he had been shown by the supervisor. This involved leaning forward over the yellow guardrail that surrounded the conveyor and reaching into it to clear the blockage with his hand. When he leant forward over the guardrail his right foot slipped on some woodchips and he fell forward pushing his left hand into the pinch point where the top and bottom belts of the conveyor met. The conveyor caught the glove that he was wearing and pulled his left arm into the conveyor bending and twisting it around the head pulley. He was able to put his hand into the conveyor because its pinch point was not guarded and there was no emergency stop button within his reach.

He screamed for help but no one could hear him over the noise of the machinery in the timber mill. The conveyor continued to pull his hand and arm through it until his hand jammed the machine. After about 10 minutes a person working in the factory next door to the timber mill heard him screaming for help, climbed over the fence that surrounded the timber mill and came to help. However, neither he nor the employee knew how to stop the conveyor so he found another worker in the mill who was able to turn off the conveyor.

Two machine fitters and the supervisor then spent about 20 minutes trying unsuccessfully to free him from the conveyor. Eventually the conveyor belt was cut and he was freed from the conveyor. The injured person's hand was cut and burnt, and bone could be seen. He was taken to Royal Perth Hospital where he underwent several operations during which part of his hand was removed and skin grafts carried out.

On 6 July a Senior Worksafe inspector advised a director and employee of the accused, that she was very concerned that subsequent to the accident the accused has not inspected the conveyor to make sure that its employees working on or near the conveyor were not exposed to hazards.

On 15 July 2004 a representative of the accused, inspected the conveyor at Pinetec Limited and provided the accused with a report which identified the hazards associated with the conveyor, the measures that were in place and the further measures that needed to be put in place to remove or reduce the risk of injury caused by the hazard.

It was not until 15 July 2005 that the accused took any practicable measures to remove or minimise the risk of injury to its employees caused by the conveyor at Pinetec Limited.

Outcome Summary Convicted
Conviction Date 27 Nov 2006
Court Magistrates Court of WA - Perth
Fine $25,000
Costs $618.45
Charge Number 5968/06