A family-owned vegetable farm and packing facility near Kwinana has been fined $15,000 after a worker broke and cut his arm while trying to clean “gunk” from an open conveyor belt four years ago. Ellement Bros Pty Ltd — which trades as Ellement Produce in Mandogalup — pleaded guilty to failing to ensure dangerous parts of a machine were securely guarded in Perth Magistrates Court on Monday and received a fine. The business is run by well-known farmers David and Ben Ellement, who are continuing a legacy left by their father Gary more than 30 years ago and supply major retailers, including Coles, Woolworths and IGA, across WA. A WorkSafe spokeswoman said the incident occurred in May 2019 when the worker assisted a colleague in a processing area where leeks — one of the business’s biggest products — were fed and straightened before travelling on a conveyor belt. In the moments before he was injured, the worker saw what he told the court was “gunk” in the lower conveyor, which was identified as waste from the washing and processing of the leeks. When he tried to clear the waste, his right arm became caught in the conveyor. Other workers pulled the emergency stop cord and cut the conveyor belt to free the worker’s arm, but he had a broken forearm bone and an open puncture wound. He later had surgery for internal repair of his forearm bones. The WorkSafe spokeswoman said the company had failed to install physical guarding over dangerous parts of the lower conveyor, contravening the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996. The court ruled guarding would have prevented the worker from coming into contact with moving parts while the machine was operating. Acting WorkSafe Commissioner Sally North said there were two areas of serious concern associated with the incident. “The company was charged over failing to guard the moving parts of this machinery, but employers must also have in place procedures to conduct cleaning or maintenance only when a machine is de-energised and isolated,“ Ms North said. “This case should serve as a reminder to all workplaces to guard all moving parts of machinery effectively . . . and also to have procedures in place for isolating machinery during maintenance or cleaning and to ensure all workers are aware of these procedures.” Ms North said WorkSafe inspectors had since visited Ellement Bros’ farm and packing facility and issued five improvement notices related to “guarding, lock-out tag-out systems, and notifying injuries to WorkSafe”. She said the business had made many improvements, including installing permanent guarding on its conveyors. It has also created a formal lock-out tag-out process, given staff additional health and safety training and introduced a written procedure titled work health and safety management system. “This case has resulted in substantial improvements to health and safety management in this workplace and has also led to a reminder to all workplaces with machinery of the importance of guarding and safety during maintenance,” Ms North said. She encouraged businesses to visit the WorkSafe website and read its code of practice, titled Safeguarding of Machinery and Plant, which outlined hazards associated with machinery, including unguarded conveyors. Ellement Bros has been contacted for comment.