A Richmond food manufacturer has seen its fines for failing to keep its workers safe triple to $105,000 after the initial sentence was appealed in the County Court.
The court heard the $35,000 in fines initially imposed on Makmur Enterprises Pty Ltd for unsafe machinery was manifestly inadequate given the company’s history of offending.
The original sentence of the Collingwood Neighbourhood Justice Centre (CNJC) that saw Makmur fined $5,000 without conviction for failing to provide or maintain plant or systems of work that were safe and without risks to health was set aside last week.
Instead the County Court convicted Makmur and ordered it to pay a fine of $60,000 – 12 times the original amount.
The court heard that in June 2019, the hand of a worker tasked to clean a conveyor that transferred dim sims from one machine to another, became caught between the belt and a roller as she tried to balance while crouching beneath the conveyor.
WorkSafe’s investigation found that the company failed to reduce the risk of entanglement by installing guarding where bodily access to the roller and belt was possible, and implementing a system of work whereby the conveyor was stopped before being cleaned.
The County Court also set aside a second CNJC penalty, increasing a fine, with conviction, from $30,000 to $45,000.
Makmur had pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide or maintain plant that was safe and without risks to health after a labour hire worker injured his finger in May 2020 while operating a dim sim dough machine, which had two power-driven mechanical mixing arms.
A WorkSafe investigation found the machine was missing guards to control the risk of entanglement or crush injuries and safety interlock devices were inactive.
The court heard Makmur has a history of workplace health and safety offending, involving unsafe machinery, with two previous fines totalling $140,000.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the appeal sent a strong message to employers who repeatedly ignore safety measures.
“WorkSafe has no tolerance for employers who fail in their duty to maintain safe workplaces, let alone those too obstinate to learn from their previous offences,” Dr Beer said.
“We won’t hesitate to appeal sentences that we believe do not reflect the seriousness of a matter.”
To manage risks when working with machinery employers should:
- Identify hazards, assess the risks associated with them and eliminate or control those risks by isolating them or using an alternative.
- Train staff in the safe operation of machines and equipment and provide written procedures in the worker’s first language.
- Develop and implement safe operating procedures in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives.
- Ensure safety guards and gates are compliant and fixed to machines at all times.
- Regularly service and inspect machines and equipment.
- Place signs on or near a machine to alert employees of the dangers of operating it.
Source: WorkSafe Victoria.