Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory has been fined $15,000 after a plumber broke his thigh while attempting to clean a pond liner at Allansford.
The Saputo-owned factory pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court to one charge of failing to provide a working environment that was safe and without risks to health.
The court heard the company contracted Warrnambool's Kavanagh Plumbing to annually clean a geomembrane liner used to cover a pond filled with milk by-product at the Allansford site.
On April 26, 2017, the victim attended the factory to remove and clean the pond liner.
During the process, a pulley system connected to a tractor malfunctioned, causing a bar to swing and hit and break the victim's thigh.
Investigations revealed the malfunction was a result of the working load limit of the pulley system being exceeded after the pond liner took on water as it was removed.
The court heard a safety briefing was conducted and a safe method statement was signed off prior to the incident.
But a Work Safe report showed there should have been an exclusion zone around the pond, preventing the victim's injury.
The court heard Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory had two prior convictions for similar offending, including an incident in 2013 when a man fell four metres after falling through a sky light of a roof.
Lawyer Robert Taylor said the company had appeared in court just three times in 130 years.
He said the company spent $3 million on Occupational Health and Safety in the last financial year and conducted safe work methods for all tasks.
He said Kavanagh Plumbing had previously removed the pond liner on five occasions without any issues.
The pond liners are no longer used at the factory after research revealed the milk by-product did not contain an odour, the lawyer said.
Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory was fined $15,000 and ordered to pay costs of $5094 to Work Safe.
Magistrate Michael Coghlan said, if not for the guilty plea, the company would have been fined $30,000.
A conviction was not recorded.
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