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Nippy’s Waikerie Producers Pty Ltd has been fined $120,000 after a traumatic incident at its South Australian packing shed, where an 18-year-old employee suffered a severe scalp injury.
Details of the Incident
In November 2020, the young worker was attempting to clear a blockage from a conveyor belt when her hair became entangled in an unguarded sprocket and drive-chain system, resulting in her scalp being torn off. This incident led to multiple surgical procedures and ongoing treatment for the victim.
A safety assessment conducted by Nippy’s in 2013 had identified risks of injury from unguarded moving parts, including to hands and hair. However, necessary safety measures were not implemented, contributing to the development of a workplace culture where such risks were either unrecognised or ignored.
Court’s Decision and Impact on Victims
Deputy President Magistrate Katherine Eaton noted the serious consequences of the company’s failure to take simple and inexpensive safety measures. She acknowledged the company’s genuine remorse and efforts in supporting the victim’s family and improving workplace safety post-incident. Despite these efforts, the company received a criminal conviction and was fined, reflecting the gravity of the negligence.