03/08/2022

A salt harvesting and selling company has been convicted and fined $75,000 for exposing their workers to an unsafe working environment that led to a worker suffering serious injuries.

Pacific Salt Pty Ltd pled guilty and was sentenced in the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) for breaching their health and safety duty and exposing their workers to an unsafe work environment.

In April 2020, a young worker suffered injury after her right arm was trapped between a roller and the motorised belt of a conveyor.

The return rollers of the conveyor were unguarded, and the conveyor was not fitted with an emergency stop device.

The worker sustained serious injuries requiring hospitalisation and several surgical treatments to her arm.

The young worker was 18 years old, and continues to suffer from the incident.

Pacific Salt Pty Ltd were charged with:

  • failure to provide or maintain a safe working environment
  • failure to perform an adequate hazard identification and risk assessment process specific to the use of the conveyor
  • failure to comply with their health and safety duty

The SAET convicted Pacific Salt Pty Ltd and imposed a fine of $75,000 (after discount for early guilty plea) plus legal costs.

This incident was the first work health and safety breach by the company in 50 years.

Since the incident, Pacific Salt Pty Ltd has spent $20,000 to install guards and an emergency stop control device to the conveyor. They have also spent a further $300,000 to review and improve safety requirements on the plant and equipment, and conducted an independent safety audit of their facility.

SafeWork SA Executive Director, Martyn Campbell said, “In this case, the incident that occurred and the injuries that were sustained could have been prevented”.

“A risk assessment could have been carried out by the company including an adequate response. This everyday task has caused severe injury to this young worker who continues to suffer from the effects of the incident,” said Mr Campbell.

Further information is available on the Safework SA website relating to Guarding.