Asia / Oceania
Tumut concrete factory faces $80,000 fine
Jul, 10 2012
(Australia) -- A TUMUT concrete manufacturer has been fined $80,000 after one of its employees almost died from inhaling toxic fumes.
A 29-year-old man was working under concrete premix silos at a Tegra plant on November 12, 2009 when a large amount of cement powder was accidentally released.
The man, who wasn’t wearing a mask or breathing equipment, was almost killed when he inhaled the cement powder and his lung capacity has been permanently reduced to 35 per cent as a result if the accident.
He has developed further serious health complications, including suffering a heart attack, and is still unable to return to work.
Tegra was charged with breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act and pleaded guilty. The company was fined $80,000 and ordered to pay the WorkCover’s legal costs by the Industrial Court of NSW.
WorkCover found the accidental release was foreseeable and should have been planned for, and that all employees should be required to wear face masks while on site.
The investigation also found Tegra failed to provide appropriate supervision, skills and training on what to do in such an emergency.
WorkCover NSW general manager John Watson said the watchdog would work with Tegra to ensure the same mistakes are not made in the future.
“Companies must maintain a high level of safety in everyday activities,” he said.
“Working with heavy machinery in manufacturing plants like these can be dangerous. Mandating, and supervising the wearing of facemasks is a well-known and practical way to improving safety.
“People need to also be trained in how to properly respond to an emergency.
“There was a clear lack of instruction and training in this instance. Had there been better instruction and training the consequences might not have seen so severe.”
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