A BEVERAGE manufacturer has been fined a total of $80,000 for health and safety breaches at its Kyneton factory, one of which saw a worker admitted to intensive care.
The state's workplace health and safety regulator said Taylor Ferguson & Co Pty Ltd's handling of the incident showed "a complete disregard for the health and safety of workers".
The company, trading as Alepat Taylor, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court to two matters involving seven breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act at its bottling and packaging factory in Kyneton.
An August 2019 incident, in which a worker's head and face were crushed by part of a machine that moved bottles from a pallet onto a conveyor, accounted for the bulk of the fines.
The worker's injuries were attributed to inadequate guarding on the machine.
Taylor Ferguson & Co was fined $30,000 for failing to maintain a safe machine, and a further $25,000 for failing to preserve the scene of the incident and not notifying WorkSafe.
WorkSafe said it only became aware of the incident three days later after another worker raised concerns.
The regulator said production at the factory resumed soon after the worker was taken to hospital, disturbing the scene.
"This worker was left with an horrific, life-changing injury after this company failed in its duty to properly manage the well-known dangers of moving machinery on a number of occasions," Julie Nielsen, an executive director at WorkSafe, said.
"The fact this incident wasn't reported to WorkSafe and production restarted so soon shows a complete disregard for the health and safety of workers."
Taylor Ferguson & Co was also fined $25,000 on four counts of failing to maintain safe machines.
An anonymous complaint of unsafe work conditions prompted a WorkSafe inspection in October 2018, which identified faulty or inoperable guarding on four machines.
Inspectors returned the following month to find the issues had not been resolved.
WorkSafe said it wasn't until February 2019 that each machine had adequate guarding.
The court last week convicted Taylor Ferguson & Co of the breaches, in addition to imposing fines.
Ms Nielsen said there was no excuse for putting workers at risk by allowing them to use insufficiently guarded machines.
WorkSafe said employers should identify hazards, assess the associated risk and eliminate or control those risks.
Staff should be trained in the safe operation of machines and equipment and provided with written procedures in that worker's first language.
Safe operating procedures should be developed and implemented in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives.
Machines and equipment should be regularly serviced and inspected.
Safety guards and gates should be compliant and fixed to machines at all times.
Signs should be placed on or near machinery to alert employees of the dangers of its operation.
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