Sanikleen & Diamond Valley Pork - Repeat Offenders

Serious repeat workplace safety offences have landed Diamond Valley Pork and Sanikleen in court this month prompting WorkSafe to warn others to lift their game.

WorkSafe’s General Manager of Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said the courts took workplace safety issues seriously, particularly when there had been prior offences.

“If you have been dealt with by the courts once, they and the community expect you to learn a lesson and take action to avoid a repeat offence.

“It is disappointing that we have had to take action against companies and individuals who should know better.

“Safety must be a priority for directors, managers and supervisors who must look for, and deal with, potential safety issues.  

Laverton North meat processor, Diamond Valley Pork Pty Ltd and labour hire firm Sanikleen Pty Ltd were each convicted and fined $100,000 with costs of $2,463 yesterday after a worker lost two fingers in an inadequately guarded machine in 2010. 

Diamond Valley Pork Pty Ltd and Sanikleen Pty Ltd each pleaded guilty to workplace health and safety charges at the Werribee Magistrates Court. 

In June 2010, a Sanikleen employee working at Diamond Valley Pork had three fingers crushed in the spinning rollers of a machine which he was cleaning and oiling. His index and middle fingers were surgically amputated while his right ring finger has lost mobility.

WorkSafe’s investigation found the machine’s guards had a gap of 20cm which was wide enough to allow hands and fingers to come into contact with the rollers. 

The machine was also not locked-out or isolated from the power supply and the work instruction was inherently dangerous.

Magistrate Fitzgerald was told the likelihood of the incident occurring was high as the casing machine was cleaned and oiled every day and that a basic interlock guard could have prevented the incident. 

Sanikleen was aware of this and alerted Diamond Valley Port by letter several months before the incident. 

Both companies had prior offences for workplace safety issues. In July 2009, Diamond Valley Pork was convicted and fined $45,000 and Sanikleen was convicted and fined $40,000 in 2005.

Ms Sturzenegger said ensuring machines were adequately guarded and that people had the right training and systems of work were the most fundamental obligations of running a business. 

“Apart from the effect on the individual who is hurt or exposed to risk, a conviction and fines can have significant financial consequences for businesses and their reputations,” Ms Sturzenegger said.

“Dealing with safety issues is an investment in the business and your people. Get it right and many problems and avoidable business costs are avoided."

30 May 2012