WA: waste recycling company fined $230,000 over arm amputation

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, 27 April, 2022 - 12:45
Incidents & prosecutions
Western Australia

A waste recycling company in Bayswater WA has been fined $230,000 after successfully appealing an earlier conviction in which it was fined $330,000 over an incident in which a labour-hire worker’s arm was amputated at the shoulder.

Resource Recovery Solutions was previously found guilty and sentenced in November 2020 for two offences – gross negligence in failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment for a labour-hire worker, and non-compliance with an improvement notice issued by WorkSafe.

The company successfully appealed the decision in December 2021, and was recently handed a $230,000 fine in lieu of the previous penalty for failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing serious harm to a labour-hire worker.

The gross negligence verdict was set aside, as was the charge of contravening an improvement notice which was not proven because the notice was found to be invalid.

Resource Recovery Solutions was prosecuted over an incident in January 2016 in which a worker had his arm amputated at the shoulder when it was caught in the crush point between a conveyor belt and a roller at the automated recycling plant.

He had been working as a “picker”, a worker whose job it was to manually remove unsuitable items from conveyor belts and to clear blockages or jams in various machines.

A blockage had been cleared and the belts had been restarted when the worker reached in to remove a rock that was dragged into the crush point.

There was no guarding around the crush points of the belt, and there was no lockout tag out procedure followed to isolate the moving parts of the plant when removing blockages.

The company deserved a significant penalty, both for this incident and because they had a questionable safety history, said WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh.

“The company had a long history of flouting workplace safety laws – another worker at this plant was killed in 2013 when an overloaded roof panel collapsed and crushed him.

“WorkSafe inspectors visited the workplace and found that numerous conveyor belts were not guarded. They were reassured that the plant was fully automated and workers were not present when the plant was running.

“Another worker suffered a broken arm in February 2015 when his arm was dragged into a moving conveyor belt which again had no guarding.

“This disregard for worker safety is the precise reason we have workplace safety laws, and this case should send a strong warning to all employers to protect the safety of their workers.”

The company’s Director Salvatore Tomo Mangione has pleaded guilty to the same amended charges and will be sentenced in June.