BIG FINE FOR CLEANAWAY AFTER WORKER INJURED BECAUSE OF CHEMICAL FIRE

BIG FINE FOR CLEANAWAY AFTER WORKER INJURED BECAUSE OF CHEMICAL FIRE

WASTE management company Cleanaway (ASX:CWY) has been fined $650,000 following a chemical fire which led to an employee being injured.

The company was convicted and fined in the District Court of South Australia following an investigation by federal work health and safety regulator Comcare.

Cleanaway pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing in its duty to ensure the health and safety of workers under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act.

The injury was sustained by a worker in Adelaide who sprained his wrist after being knocked to the ground by the force of a three-metre-long flame exploding from the company's industrial metal still.

Judge Geraldine Davison handed down the penalty, citing the company's failure to provide employees with necessary safety information during the company's first production-scale trial of a new solvent.

"Workers had very limited information about the new product in Still 9, such as appropriate temperature controls and hazards associated with its decomposition products," says Judge Davison.

"At no time during these conversations did Cleanaway provide a work instruction which stated that the temperature for Still 9 was to be maintained at the extraction temperature of approximately 163°C and that it was prohibited and unsafe for the Still 9 to be heated above 220°C."

Judge Davison stated that in determining the sentence she took into account the gravity of the offence and considered there to be a high degree of culpability.

A Cleanaway spokesperson says the Company has cooperated fully with authorities and subsequently introduced a number of safety improvements at their sites.

"In the time following the incident, we have cooperated fully with Comcare's investigation and have subsequently implemented a number of process improvements at our sites," says the spokesperson.

"The safety of our staff, customers and the communities in which we operate is paramount.

"We will review the Court's judgement carefully and take any additional actions as necessary."

The Melbourne based company has previously been fined in 2015 for negligent behaviour following a fatal accident in Perth where a company truck crashed into a 71-year-old driver.

In that case, the waste management company was penalised for breaching federal work health and safety laws and fined $363,000.

Cleanaway shares are down 0.24 per cent to $1.24 at midday today (AEST).

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