Waste transfer and recycling business fined $140,000 for fatality

A waste transfer and recycling business has been fined $140,000 after a worker died while operating the onsite shredder which was used to process waste material.

The business pleaded guilty to charges under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

The defendant was charged following the death of the worker on 22 January 2021 who was working the nightshift loading material into a shredder at the waste business.

The worker commenced employment as a machine operator for the defendant approximately six months earlier.

On the night of the incident, two workers were tasked to clear a large pile of waste on the floor of the processing shed with no supervisor present.

At the time this work was being completed, the shredder was in poor mechanical state. Most of its “teeth” were non-operational and due to be replaced. The lack of teeth impacted the ability to shred the material and as a result, material became stuck within the shredder, causing blockages.

The workers would first try and clear the blockage by going underneath the overhead three tonne magnetic conveyor and reach into the internal part of the shredder via the discharge chute to remove waste material.

At approximately 1.30am, the worker undertaking the clearing task was crushed when the remote toggle for the conveyor was activated against the body of the shredder.

An investigation by Workplace Health and Safety found that the defendant had not conducted a risk assessment of the shredder. There were no training or documented procedures specific to clearing blockages; the only safety measure was an undocumented ‘lockout and tagout’ approach. There were no secondary safety measures. Further the operator manual erroneously stated that the magnetic conveyor was not operational if the shredder was in manual mode. This error was only discovered upon the worker’s death.

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