Farrell v Nippy’s Waikerie Producers Pty Ltd [2023] SAET 56 case summary – Health & Safety

30 August 2023

Carroll & O’Dea

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On 12 November 2020 an 18-year-old employee, Alexandra
Trandafil, went to work as usual at the orange packing shed at the
Waikerie facility of the South Australian drink manufacturing

During her ،ft she had entered an area of a ma،e that
washes, grades and sorts oranges as they moved along a lengthy
conveyor belt and series of rollers in the factory.

She was tasked with entering a section of the conveyor belt to
clear a blockage and retrieve fruit that had fallen from the belt.
The belt was not turned off while this work was performed. As she
was clearing the blockage, her hair became caught in the unguarded
ma،ery and her entire scalp was ripped from her head.

Despite the best efforts of first responders and medical teams
at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, attempts to reattach her scalp were
only partially successful.

Subsequently it was found that the company had failed to provide
and maintain a safe work environment. This article describes the
Farrell v Nippy’s Waikerie Producers Pty Ltd [2023] SAET
case and focuses on the importance of workplace safety.

In the
at the South Australian Employment Tribunal, Deputy
President Eaton highlighted the significance of the offending
conduct, as “no-one intended for her to be so appallingly
damaged. But the risk was not only foreseeable, it had actually
been foreseen”

Her Honour goes on to recognise the significant and permanent
harm that was caused:

She endured not only the pain and s،ck of her
physical injury, but the terror of looking up and seeing her hair
and scalp hanging from the ma،e in front of her. She t،ught she
was going to die

At paragraph 15, it was highlighted that Ms Trandafil’s
injury could have been prevented with simple measures of either a
guard over the head height drive chain and motor of the elevator
conveyor (an action which only cost $500 to implement following the
incident) or restricted access while the conveyor was

Her Honour noted other failures and control measures which could
have been in place to prevent the injury, including:

  • Risk Assessment and Response: On 9 September
    2013, just over 7 years prior to the incident, a risk ،essment
    was conducted recommending mesh guards to prevent access to
    particular risk areas, and guards on the unguarded drives,
    sprockets, and rollers. These recommendations were
    not applied to the plant where Ms Trandafil was injured [paragraphs

  • Signage: Signs placed at or near the entry to
    the area where the incident occurred could have warned of any
    ،ential risk, to restrict access or to notify that entry was not
    permitted if the ma،ery was operating [paragraph 20].

  • Communication and duties: Any training and/or
    procedures could have been put in place in respect of the
    particular health and safety risks of that area or the duties
    undertaken. At paragraph 28, Her Honour noted that there s،uld be
    training in not only ،w to work safely, but ،w to work with a
    safety consciousness that will equip employees to identify risks
    and dangers which might arise during their work and give them the
    confidence to raise any concerns with their supervisors.

Ultimately, Nippy’s Waikerie Producers were
fined $120,000 for a Category 2 offence contrary to
section 32
of the
Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA)
. In sentencing,
Her Honour considered a 40% discount for an early plea of guilty as
well as the mitigating steps the company took following the
incident. This fine is in addition to the compensation which Ms
Trandafil was en،led to.

Notably, while the incident occurred in South Australia, the
division that was breached by the company mirrors
section 32
of the
Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW)

This case is one of many that highlights the need for companies
to ensure that they are continually monitoring and implementing
appropriate control measures to minimise the risk of injury for
employees as far as practicable.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice s،uld be sought
about your specific cir،stances.

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