Concrete plant fined $80,000 for OHS breach
The NSW Industrial Court has convicted Tegra Australia for breaches to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000. The company was fined $80,000 and ordered to pay the prosecutor’s costs over an incident that occurred at its Tumut plant in 2009 that left a worker with chronic lung disease.
On 12 November 2009, at Tegra Australia’s concrete plant in Tumut, 29 year old batch plant operator Christopher Leake was seriously injured when he inhaled a large quantity of cement dust caused by an uncontrolled discharge of cement powder.
As a result, Leake now has chronic obstruction pulmonary disease, leaving him with 35% lung capacity. This condition may have contributed to a heart attack he suffered in May 2010, due to the stress put on his heart by the incapacity of his lungs.
The incident occurred when Leake was working inside the plant’s control room, located under the GP cement powder and flyash silos. He was attempting to fix a pneumatic actuator, which controlled the flow of cement powder into a weigh hopper, which was malfunctioning.
This led to a large release of cement dust into the control room that filled the air.
There were no masks or other breathing apparatus located in the control room. Leake attempted to use his shirt as a mask.
The court found Tegra breached the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 by failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees, and Leake in particular.
View the Court's ruling here