Packaging company fined after worker sustains crush injuries in workplace incident

Visy Board Pty Limited (Visy) has been handed a hefty fine of $375,000 by the NSW District Court subsequent to an unfortunate incident on their grounds where one of their employees suffered severe crush injuries to his left ankle. According to the presiding court, the risk of harm in the circumstances was glaringly evident. This underscores the vital importance of utilising work safety products, such as SWMS and WHS Management Systems like Bluesafe WHS, to manage risks and prevent such incidents from happening.

SafeWork NSW took charge of the prosecution following the incident, which occurred on 25th June 2020. During this incident, an unsuspecting employee of Visy was working on a conveyor at their Smithfield location when he inadvertently stepped in the way of a trolley car. This resulted in the worker’s left leg being trapped between the edge of the moving trolley car and the conveyor, resulting in a crushing injury to his left ankle.

As an outcome of these escalating circumstances, the employee had to endure several surgical procedures on his left ankle and foot. Despite rigorous medical attention, an infection post-surgery led to the painful decision to amputate the afflicted worker’s left leg below the knee.

A stark revelation post the incident was the fact that a risk assessment was conducted around six months before the near-fatal event. This assessment highlighted ‘crush/pinch points between the edge of trolley car and conveyor corners’ as a potential hazard area inviting imminent danger. The report also furnished solutions to mitigate these risks but were not implemented by Visy, even though they conceded the risk was ‘unacceptable’.

The judge voiced that the physical trauma, emotional distress, and the resulting losses caused by this catastrophic negligence were immense.

Trent Curtin, leading SafeWork NSW, stated: “It was clear that Visy knew about the life-threatening conditions their workers were exposed to, yet steps to eliminate or reduce the risk were ignored. Mobile equipment like trolley cars have a high potential of inflicting serious injuries or proving fatal. It’s paramount for workplaces to identify such risks and suitably design the layout to keep vehicles and pedestrians separate – which reinforces the importance of SWMS or systems like Bluesafe WHS Management System.”

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