Cake maker’s failure to maintain plant gives rise to serious injury
A cake and baked foods manufacturer in Melbourne was prosecuted earlier this month following one of their employee’s fingers becoming partially amputated by its faulty plant.
Hallam-based company The Cake Syndicate Pty Ltd, trading as Susan Day Cakes, was hit with a $30,000 fine and $1,500 costs for its failure to provide and maintain plant guarding, as well as failing to notify WorkSafe Victoria about the incident.
The item of plant was a machine that wrapped small cakes and muffins, transported by conveyors, in plastic film.
A site maintenance manager at the company emailed the operations manager when he discovered that the machine had serious issues with the control system and screen freezing.
When this froze, the machine kept running and could not be stopped by any operational method, not even with the emergency stop buttons. The site manager requested that a technician attend the site and fix the problem urgently.
The machine manufacturer later provided verbal instructions to remedy the fault, which reduced the frequency of freezing errors, but the issue had not been completely resolved.
About a month later, the machine’s system froze again. The conveyor section at the wrapping and packing end stopped moving and the food products started to back up along the production line. An employee pressed the stop button, but the machine continued to operate. Upon pressing the stop button a second time, the machine finally stopped.
The employee was then instructed to remove the wrapping film from the machine. While trying to retrieve bits of the film that were stuck, a blade came down and severed the tips of two of her fingers. The employee was not aware that the guard covering the blade was not operating.
She stated that she wasn’t told about this, nor had anyone warned her about the safety faults on the machine.
The company’s failure to have the machine inspected and repaired by a qualified technician resulted in a preventable injury.
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