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Massive fine after conveyor belt injury

A mining and construction company in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley Region has had to pay more than $300,000 five years after an employee became trapped in an unguarded conveyor belt and was seriously injured.

Kununurra concrete supplier and mining plant operator Guerinoni was fined $230,000 plus costs of $75,000 on Monday in the Rockingham Magistrates Court.

The worker suffered the injuries in June 2016 while he was operating an alluvial screening and crushing plant.

The man used a tool to reach into the plant’s conveyor to clear a rock rotating in the nip point of the tail-end pulley.

The moving belt had not been switched off and isolated, and both of the man’s arms were drawn into the pinch point causing serious injuries to his arms and back.

He managed to free himself when the tail-end pulley came to a stop, and was then able to seek emergency assistance.

The conveyor did not have physical guarding to prevent access to its moving parts.

Camera IconThe man worked alone, without the necessary supervision, and there was no isolation procedure for the plant. Ben Broady. Credit: Supplied

Guerinoni pleaded not guilty but was convicted for failing to provide a safe work environment and causing serious harm to an employee.

The man worked alone, without the necessary supervision, and there was no isolation procedure for the plant.

These factors, along with a lack of employee training to operate the equipment, meant Guerinoni did not comply with the most basic safety practices.

Sally North, the WA mining department’s acting mines safety director said mine operators must provide adequate guarding to the dangerous parts of a conveyor, as the possibility of a serious injury or death was “obvious”.

“Employers must also confirm that workers conducting cleaning, maintenance and repair work are adequately instructed, trained, assessed and supervised,” she said.

“Failure to do so may expose their employees to unacceptable risks.”

Ms North said mining operators should undertake a risk assessment on all machinery to identify hazards, enforce suitable isolation and emergency procedures and ensure adequate communication systems and supervision for people working alone.

 

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