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$545,000 Fine for Plastics Giant After Horrific Worker Injuries Expose Grave Safety Failures

A J Australia Laverton Nth
  
   

A plastics molding company, A & J Australia Pty Ltd, has incurred a hefty penalty of $545,000 for a series of workplace safety violations at its facility in Laverton North, resulting in severe injuries to employees. The Melbourne County Court imposed the fine following the company’s admission of guilt to 16 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

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The sequence of accidents at the plant includes two individuals incurring serious burns in an incident involving the misuse of unlabeled methylated spirits to douse a fire, a worker suffering a head injury and concussion due to machinery falling on him, and another employee experiencing a finger laceration caused by equipment.

During a court session on Thursday, A & J Australia was penalized across various counts for its failure to ensure a secure working environment, properly store hazardous substances, and adequately instruct and train its employees. A notable incident occurred in November 2020, when a mechanical engineer attempting to remove plastic from a machine with an LPG torch inadvertently ignited a fire. In a failed attempt to extinguish the flames using an unmarked container of methylated spirits, a fireball erupted, severely burning both the engineer and the company’s sole director.

The court learned that the company could have reasonably conducted a risk assessment for the equipment involved, established safer work procedures without resorting to open flames, and enforced strict labeling and storage guidelines for flammable liquids. Moreover, the company was found negligent in protecting non-employee individuals on site, exemplified by an event in November 2021, where a blow molding machine part fell and injured a machine operator’s head.

Investigations by WorkSafe highlighted the company’s failure to install protective guarding on machines, conduct regular inspections, and maintain equipment to prevent such accidents. Additional fines were levied for the company’s failure to report an incident where a technician required surgery after slicing his finger on a machine in July 2020, and for not complying with issued improvement and prohibition notices.

Narelle Beer, WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, emphasized the organization’s commitment to prosecuting employers neglecting worker safety. Dr. Beer highlighted the severity of the incidents at A & J Australia, criticizing the repeated safety failures as “absolutely unacceptable” and underscoring the non-negotiable nature of maintaining equipment and providing necessary training to ensure workplace safety.

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