Injury left worker with scar, pain

A WODONGA company has been fined $40,000 plus costs following a WorkSafe prosecution after an employee was hit in the face with an angle grinder.

The penalty was imposed yesterday by magistrate Ian Watkins on Wodonga Rendering Pty Ltd after it pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe system of work.

An employee working as a fitter and welder was making a new steel table for a splitting saw in May last year.

WorkSafe prosecutor Mai Pham outlined how he was using a nine-inch angle grinder to cut a large piece of metal without supervision or a face mask.

“The incident has had a significant impact on the injured worker,” Ms Pham said.

She read a victim impact statement which said he was happy and outgoing before the accident, but now is withdrawn and has a scar on his face.

He is unable to smile properly, suffered two deep cuts to his face, cut a main facial artery and at times has stinging and tingling sensations in his face.

Ms Pham said it was appropriate for a conviction to be imposed.

Barrister Tony Burns represented the company and said it began in 1996 and has two components with an abattoir and rendering business.

It processes 1.3-million animal carcases a year, has more than 500 workers and is the third biggest employer in the region.

Mr Burns said it was company policy for the employee to be wearing a full-face mask, but he did not have one.

“He should have been supervised. This company is a first-time offender,” he said.

Angle grinders are now banned.

Mr Watkins said no advice was given to the employee on what tool should be used.

The grinder kicked back, causing severe injuries with scarring and on-going embarrassment.

Mr Watkins said the company conceded its supervision was inadequate.

There is much evidence about it being a good corporate citizen and large employer.

Mr Watkins said the maximum penalty available was $352,000, but imposed a conviction, $40,000 fine and ordered the payment of $2200 costs.