WA waste company fined over arm amputation

·2-min read

A Perth waste recycling company has been heavily fined for gross negligence after a labour hire worker's arm was amputated at the shoulder when he was dragged between a conveyer belt and roller.

The Resource Recovery Solutions worker was manually removing unsuitable items from conveyor belts and clearing blockages when he became caught in the crush point while removing a rock in January 2016.

The company was found guilty in July of gross negligence by failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment.

In Perth Magistrates Court on Monday, Resource Recovery Solutions was fined $310,000 for the gross negligence offence and an additional $20,000 for failing to comply with an improvement notice issued by WorkSafe.

It was also ordered to pay $234,000 in costs.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said it was the first time an entity had been found guilty of gross negligence under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

"The employer in this case has continued to disregard the safety of workers by allowing them to work with conveyor belts with unguarded crush points even after numerous incidents at that workplace," Mr Kavanagh said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The magistrate stated in her decision that the disregard for safety was blatant and went well beyond mere neglect."

The maximum penalty available to the magistrate for the 2016 offence was a $500,000 fine.

WA's workplace safety laws were increased in 2018 to allow a maximum fine of $2.7 million for gross negligence.

The state parliament also recently passed long-awaited industrial manslaughter laws.

Mr Kavanagh said Resource Recovery Solutions "had a long history of flouting workplace safety laws".

In September 2013, a worker was fatally crushed when an overloaded roof panel collapsed and WorkSafe inspectors found conveyor belts were not guarded.

"They were reassured that the plant was fully automated and workers were not present when the plant was running," Mr Kavanagh said.

Another worker suffered a broken arm in February 2015 when he was dragged into a moving conveyor belt, and WorkSafe subsequently ordered guarding be installed but it never happened.