A grain store and one of its directors have been fined a total of $112,000 after an employee’s hand was caught in machinery at the business in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs.

A grain store and one of its directors have been fined a total of $112,000 after an employee’s hand was caught in machinery at the business in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs.

On 14 February 2020, the staff member was transferring a delivery of white millet into two portable grain transfer augers, which were set up back-to-back at the rear of the business premises.

The employee, who had only worked at the Magill Grain Store for seven months, took over the transfer of the load after the director was called away to attend to another delivery.

He was not given any specific directions or instructions by the director and had not previously engaged in such a transfer himself.

An empty grain sack had become entangled in one of the augers, which was then turned off.

Augers are large rotating screws that draw millet from a hopper into another hopper or a holding silo.

The truck driver, who was assisting the transfer of the millet, had not visited the business before.

The employee used a knife to cut free the empty grain sack, and in doing so placed his left hand on the exposed base of the auger. While this was happening, the truck driver turned the auger back on.

The man’s hand was caught in the auger and he sustained a degloving injury, which required surgery and has resulted in some permanent damage.

Neither of the augers involved in the millet transfer were guarded and neither had an isolation switch.

The director and the company both pleaded guilty in the South Australian Employment Tribunal following a SafeWork SA investigation.

In his judgement delivered on 16 September, Deputy President Cole said Magill Grain Store and the director breached section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) in that they failed to provide and maintain, so far as was reasonably practicable, safe plant and structures.

‘They failed to ensure that there was adequate guarding to eliminate or minimise the risk of injury, failed to provide a safe system of work, including failure to perform an adequate hazard identification and risk assessment process, and failed to provide necessary information, training, instruction, or supervision,’ he said.

The Magill Grain Store was ordered to pay a fine of $87,500 and the director $24,500 after they both received a 30 per cent sentencing discount.

SafeWork SA Executive Director Martyn Campbell, said the defendants were entitled to a discount of up to 30 per cent for their early guilty plea, which was entered more than four weeks after the first Court appearance in relation to the charges.

‘The defendants fully cooperated with the investigation and had no relevant criminal history,’ he said.

The business was sold in June 2022 and the second defendant and his father stayed on to provide handover, including to ensure that safety procedures and processes were in place.

Deputy President Cole said the decision to sell the business was difficult as it had been a family business for about 90 years.

He said the second defendant was concerned that the sale would impact markedly on his father, who was the other director of the business.

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