WorkCover NSW report that a concrete manufacturing business has been fined $80,000 and ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs after a 29 year old man almost died when he inhaled toxic fumes.
The company involved, Tegra Australia Pty Ltd (Tegra), owns and operates a concrete manufacturing plant in Tumut, at the foot of the Snowy Mountains.
The incident, which resulted in a man almost being killed when he inhaled cement powder, occurred on 12 November 2009. The 29-year-old employee was working under concrete premix storage silos when a large amount of cement powder was accidentally released. Whilst the man escaped fatal injuries, he has permanently reduced his lung capacity to 35 per cent. Other ongoing health effects incurred include serious health complications, including a heart attack.
WorkCover NSW report that their investigation found that an accidental release of cement was foreseeable and should have been planned for, including requiring all employees to wear face masks while on site. Other findings was that the company also failed to provide appropriate supervision, skills, and training on what to do in the case of this type of emergency.
Tegra was charged with breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000. The company pleaded guilty and was fined $80,000 and legal costs by the Industrial Court of NSW.
WorkCover NSW General Manager John Watson said the company’s failings were serious.
“Companies must maintain a high level of safety in everyday activities,” he said.