Manufacturing News

Dairy manufacturer fined over factory worker death

A Victorian dairy products manufacturer has been fined and convicted following a death due to unsafe storage practices.

Fonterra Australia was convicted and fined $300,000 in the Melbourne County Court.

WorkSafe’s investigation found the man died when a one tonne bag of salt fell on him.

Fonterra Australia pleaded guilty to one charge, after a forklift driver died at its Stanhope cheese factory in September 2009.

Judge Frank Gucciardo said the system for stacking bags at Stanhope was unsafe.

He said it was not until after the man’s death that a safe racking system was put in place and a written procedure developed.

Had it not been for its guilty plea, Fonterra would have been fined $400,000.

WorkSafe’s general manager for operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said all businesses had to ensure they could safely store bulk products or other stock.

WorkSafe’s investigation found the practice of stacking bulk salt bags at Stanhope was unsafe as the tops of lower bags may not be sufficiently level to safely accommodate those on top.

It was reported the danger was such that if the surface of a bag was not level, even a small disturbing force could cause the stack to topple.

Marking the start of WorkSafe Week Sturzenegger said common safety failings involving routine tasks cause the overwhelming majority of workplace injuries and deaths.

“In this case the bags of salt were delivered and stacked every week. The lesson for others is to understand the potential safety issues, consult with the workforce and fix problems,” said Sturzenegger. 

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