SA: salt harvesting company fined $75,000 over conveyer belt injury

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.
Tuesday, 9 August, 2022 - 12:00
Incidents & prosecutions
South Australia

A salt harvesting and selling company in South Australia has been convicted and fined $75,000 for exposing their workers to an unsafe working environment that led to a worker suffering serious injuries.

Pacific Salt pled guilty and was sentenced in the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) for breaching their health and safety duty and exposing their workers to an unsafe work environment.

In April 2020, a young worker suffered an injury after her right arm was trapped between a roller and the motorised belt of a conveyor.

The return rollers of the conveyor were unguarded, and the conveyor was not fitted with an emergency stop device.

The worker sustained serious injuries requiring hospitalisation and several surgical treatments to her arm. The young worker was 18-years-old, and continues to suffer from the incident.

Pacific Salt was charged with failure to:

  • provide or maintain a safe working environment
  • perform an adequate hazard identification and risk assessment process specific to the use of the conveyor
  • comply with their health and safety duty

The SAET convicted Pacific Salt and imposed a fine of $75,000 (after a discount for an early guilty plea) plus legal costs.

This incident was the first work health and safety breach by the company in 50 years.

Since the incident, Pacific Salt has spent $20,000 to install guards and an emergency stop control device on the conveyor. It has also spent a further $300,000 to review and improve safety requirements on the plant and equipment, and conducted an independent safety audit of its facility.

“In this case, the incident that occurred and the injuries that were sustained could have been prevented,” said SafeWork SA executive director, Martyn Campbell.

“A risk assessment could have been carried out by the company including an adequate response. This everyday task has caused severe injury to this young worker who continues to suffer from the effects of the incident.”