‘No excuse’: company blasted for worker’s injury

·2-min read
Irrigation. Goulburn Valley. Water from the Goulburn system is expected to drop in value once tagging begins.
Irrigation. Goulburn Valley. Water from the Goulburn system is expected to drop in value once tagging begins.

A water company has been fined $50,000 after one of its workers had a finger partially amputated, and another badly injured, during a shocking incident while cleaning machinery.

The Goulburn Valley Water worker was cleaning a machine used to separate solid material and waste water at a Mooroopna North sewage treatment facility in the regional Victorian city of Shepparton when the accident happened in October 2021.

As the worker tried to dislodge some waste from a part of the machine, known as a screw press, a steel pipe he was using became twisted around the screw.

“This jammed the worker’s right hand into the moving metal fingers of a step screen located above the screw press, causing a partial amputation of his index finger and a degloving of his middle finger,” WorkSafe Victoria said in a statement.

Irrigation. Goulburn Valley. Water from the Goulburn system is expected to drop in value once tagging begins.
Goulburn Valley Water was fined $50,000 plus costs after a worker had a finger partially amputated while cleaning a piece of machinery.

The organisation investigated and found while the machine was being cleaned, it was regularly put into manual mode so it could keep being used while guards were removed.

Goulburn Valley Region Water Corporation appeared in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, where the court heard the company should have fitted an interlock device to stop it running when the guards were off.

WorkSafe Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it was crucial for employers to act when risks were identified.

“Just because a particular process has been used in the past without incident does not necessarily mean that it is without risks to the health and safety of workers,” Dr Beer said.

“There was simply no excuse for exposing this worker to serious injury, especially given this employer had already acted to reduce the same risk on similar machines at other treatment facilities.”

Goulburn Water was convicted and fined $50,000, plus $3906 in costs.