Meat processor fined $130,000 after worker's hand crushed

A Laverton pork processor has been convicted and fined $130,000 after a worker was seriously injured when his arm became trapped in a waste chute in January 2019.
News article published

Thursday 06 Aug 2020

Industries and topics
  • Manufacturing
  • Plant hazards

Diamond Valley Pork Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on July 23 to failing to adequately guard plant.

The court heard the worker was operating a casing machine when a knife fell into an offal waste chute and he reached in to retrieve it.

The worker's hand and arm became trapped and crushed by a pneumatic ram situated 45cm below the chute that pushed the waste into a disposal area.

The worker's hand was able to be reattached, but he remained off work due to medical complications with his rehabilitation, the court heard.

Diamond Valley Pork had identified the risk prior to the incident and installed a guard above the opening of the offal chute, but it was found to be inadequate as it still allowed employees to access the danger area.

Within a day of the serious injury, the company installed a different guard that prevented access to the danger area below the waste chute.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said safety around plant and machinery should not be left to the discretion of workers.

"It is up to employers to ensure the highest level of protection," she said.

"This includes the fitting of appropriate guards or barriers so moving parts cannot be touched or accessed while the machine is operating."

To manage risks employers should:

  • Identify hazards, assess the risks associated with them and eliminate or control those risks by isolating them or using an alternative.
  • Train staff in the safe operation of machines and equipment and provide written procedures in the worker's first language.
  • Develop and implement safe operating procedures in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives.
  • Ensure safety guards and gates are compliant and fixed to machines at all times.
  • Regularly service and inspect machines and equipment.
  • Place signs on or near a machine to alert employees of the dangers of operating it.