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Fertilizer company fined $250,000 over worker crush fatality

A Queensland fertilizer company has been fined $250,000 after a worker was crushed by machinery at its plant.

The company pleaded guilty yesterday in the Caboolture Magistrates Court to breaching Queensland's Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for failing to comply with its work health and safety duty, exposing workers to the risk of death or serious injury.

The court heard the company's factory includes a bagging room where bags are filled with fertiliser, sealed, flattened and stacked on pallets by machinery. At the time, the machinery consisted of an exposed conveyor belt that moved the bags through each stage, with workers required to inspect bags on the moving conveyor.

On 10 March 2020, a worker was found unconscious on the conveyor with his head and torso drawn partly into the flattener, the result of contacting the moving conveyor. His injuries included a severe traumatic brain injury caused by blunt force. He could not be revived.

A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation found the factory routine was that bags not properly sealed were manually removed before reaching the flattener. Once resealed, they would be replaced on the conveyor for flattening and stacking. As a result, workers were exposed to the real potential of serious or fatal injury from contacting the moving conveyor.

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