Thumb amputated in workplace accident



AN employee's amputated thumb has cost a Bundaberg produce company $26,500 after it was fined and ordered to pay legal costs for failing its Workplace Health and Safety obligations.

But the $19,000 fine and $7500 in costs could have been much worse - the maximum fine for such offences is $281,250.

A Bundaberg court was told this week that the man's thumb was amputated after an accident at Austchilli's Goodwood Road site on April 28, 2004.

The man was attempting to clean a processing vat at the time and his thumb became stuck between a paddle and the machine's wall.

The court was told the man had been cleaning the vat on his own when the accident happened.

Austchilli's lawyer said under company guidelines, two people were needed to clean the vat - one to shut off power below and one to clean.

The court heard that, at the time, the safety mechanism on the vat was bent and not able to trigger the switch to disengage the power.

Magistrate Leanne O'Shea said if the two-person system had been followed, it was possible the man's injuries would not have been as great.

The court was told a power grid had since been installed to prevent further accidents.

The court also was told the incident was the only Workplace Health and Safety incident the company had been investigated for in 10 years of operation.

No conviction was recorded.



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