$50,000 fine issued after worker’s leg severed by auger

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Wednesday, 7 September, 2022 - 12:15
Incidents & prosecutions
New South Wales

The operator of a regional firm in NSW was recently convicted and fined $50,000 after a worker sustained serious injuries in 2020.

Drew McLauchlan operated a business known as Declem Pastoral as part of a family partnership, and he was sentenced in the Downing Centre Local Court, Sydney for a breach of section 19/32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to ensure as far as reasonably practicable the health and safety of workers

The court heard that a then 22-year-old man in the business’s employ had part of his leg severed by an operating, unguarded piece of inground machinery while he was helping to clear grain from a silo, according to DCS Better Regulation Division Deputy Secretary and NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Natasha Mann.

“In the case before the court, the worker was employed by a family-owned and operated farm with interests in sheep and beef cattle farming, as well as grain,” Mann said.

“On the day of the incident, the farmhand was shovelling and sweeping grain inside a silo. The defendant had removed floor guards from access points to an inground grain auger, which had a motorised, twisting metal segment that was conveying produce from the silo to a waiting truck.”

The court heard part of the worker’s left leg was severed above the knee when he stepped backwards into one of the grain auger’s unguarded access points. The business offered no formal training for workers and had no documented work system at the time of the incident.

During sentencing on 9 August 2022, the court heard that McLauchlan had expressed sincere remorse following the incident.

The business has since developed a safe work procedure for cleaning the silo and operating its grain auger.

“We are asking all New South Wales agribusinesses to be vigilant about their safe work planning, and relentless about ensuring that the management and workforce are properly trained,” Mann said.