LAHARUM Bulk Handling has received a $50,000 fine after a worker’s leg became entangled in an unguarded sweep auger.
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The workplace accident resulted in the employee having half his calf muscle detaching from his right leg and lacerations requiring about 100 stitches.

Laharum Bulk Handling Company pleaded guilty in Horsham Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday to one charge of having breached part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.

The company admitted it failed to provide a safe working environment.

The court heard a worker was helping move canola from a silo into a truck in September, 2010.

He switched on a mobile auger, the conveyer and the sweep auger and entered a silo, lifting the sweep auger by its handle to help it bite into the grain.

As the worker stood between the edge of the sweep auger and the silo wall, his right leg became caught in the sweep auger.

WorkSafe’s investigation found Laharum Bulk Handling failed to provide any guarding for the sweep auger.

The company also failed to ensure workers did not get too close to the sweep auger while it was operating and failed to ensure it could not be operated while someone was inside.

After WorkSafe issued a safety improvement notice, the sweep auger was fitted with a solid mesh guard. A metal guard was also installed to reduce entanglement risks. A wheel was also installed in place of the sweep auger handle, removing the need for employees to approach it while it was rotating.

Controls were also properly labelled and further controls installed inside the silo.

WorkSafe’s operations manager Lisa Sturzenegger said the horrific incident showed that employers had to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety of their employees.

“Dangerous machinery will be a major focus for WorkSafe in the next financial year,” she said.

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