A Western Sydney manufacturing company and its director have been fined a total of $127,400 and ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs after a high powered industrial blender was turned on with a man inside it.
According to a report from WorkCover Authority of New South Wales, FIP Brakes International (FIP) produces industrial sized brake pads, as well as other products, for trains and other railway vehicles and employs around 60 people mainly based at its facility in Wetherill Park. Its managing director is Chris Katakouzinos. (WCxKit)
A machine operator was killed when he was cleaning out an industrial blender at FIP’s premises. The power to the machine had not been isolated and the machine became operational with the worker still inside. He died at the site with extensive crush injuries and lacerations.
A WorkCover investigation found a significant number of safety failings:
1. The machine should not have been able to operate while its front doors were open.
2. The safety switches were either broken or malfunctioning.
3. The machine’s electrical power supply had not been turned off.
4. The machine operator should not have been working alone.
5. The machine was not properly maintained.
6. The operator was not given proper training.
FIP and its director were charged with breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 and both pled guilty.
In handing down her finding in the Industrial Court, Justice Backman said the incident was foreseeable and that there were serious deficiencies in the company’s systems.
FIP was fined $117,000 and Katakouzinos $10,400. The court ordered them to pay WorkCover’s legal costs.
WorkCover NSW’s Acting General Manager of Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy said the risks to the employee’s safety were entirely foreseeable and the incident should never have happened.
“This case is particularly significant given that the company’s insurer had 12 months previously identified major shortcomings in the company’s occupational health and safety systems.
“The WorkCover investigation found that many of the identified problems had not been addressed. (WCxKit)
“The steps that should have been taken were not only simple, but they were well-known safety practices in the industry.”
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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