Fatal industrial blender accident results in company fines

Date: Sep 27, 2011

A western Sydney company and its director have been fined more than $120,000 for failing to prevent an accident that saw a man die after an industrial blender he was cleaning became active.

The company produced industrial sized brake pads for large vehicles as well as a number of other products for the locomotive industry.

WorkCover NSW reports that the victim was an employee of the company and was involved in cleaning the industrial-sized blender at the premises at the time of the accident.

I has been reported that the machine was not isolated from its power supply at the the time and managed to become active while he was inside it.

The man sustained massive crushing injuries and lacerations from the device before later dying at the scene.

In presenting the case to the industrial court, WorkCover pointed out a number of serious safety failings that may have contributed to the accident.

Most significantly, it was found that the machine was still operational while its doors were open and the safety switch was not operational.

Other factors that may have contributed to the incident included the fact that the man was alone when performing his task on the dangerous machine – which had not received adequate maintenance – and that the victim was not properly trained in the correct safety protocols that may have prompted him to disconnect it from the power supply.

While delivering her findings Justice Francis Backman said that she found the incident to be both foreseeable and preventable and that the company was responsible for the accident as there were some serious shortcomings in the organisation’s systems.

The manufacturer and its director both pleaded guilty to the charges and were fined $117,000 and $10,400 respectively – as well as being ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs.

Acting general manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy said that the incident was a tragic reminder of the necessity to keep effective safety protocols in place and that the and the accident should never have occurred.

Dunphy asserted: “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.

“[This] WorkCover investigation found that many of the identified problems had not been addressed.”

In NSW, families of employees who are fatally injured in the course of their duties can engage with a compensation lawyer or a no win no fee law firm to discuss their legal options.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.