Limestone Building Blocks Company fined $65,000

Company fined $65,000 after a worker was seriously injured when he was trapped in a limestone block-making machine
Date: Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Limestone Building Blocks Company Pty Ltd was fined $65,000 (and required to pay costs of $3120.33) in the Joondalup Magistrates Court last week (16/2) after a worker was seriously injured when he was trapped in a limestone block-making machine at the company's Nowergup manufacturing plant on 25 January 2017.

The worker entered the block-making machine to remove a large lump of dry limestone aggregate when the machine started up after its sensor was triggered. This resulted in serious injuries to the worker, including a severed foot, fractures to his spine, pelvis, ribs and left leg and internal organ damage.

An investigation by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) found the safety system designed to prevent workers from entering the machine when powered had been circumvented.

The machine should have been equipped with a single safety key which is used to turn on the hydraulic system to operate the machine. The same key opens the guarding used to prevent people from accessing the internal machinery.

If the single-key system is followed it is impossible to access the internal machinery and still have the hydraulic system powered.

On the day of the incident the machine had two keys being used – one powering the hydraulics and the other unlocking the safety guarding – thereby bypassing the safety system.

Mines Safety Director Andrew Chaplyn said the incident could have been fatal and has resulted in life-changing injuries for the worker.

"This incident could easily have been prevented if the company had taken some simple safety steps that were already known to them," Mr Chaplyn said.

"It is a reminder of the extremely serious consequences when companies do not place safety as their highest priority."

In handing down the penalty, the court took into account the company's early guilty plea and cooperation with investigators.