Meat processor fined $400,000 after stockman's death

A meat processing company has been convicted and fined $400,000 following the death of a worker on a property at Dunkeld in 2017.


Midfield Meat Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court today after being found guilty in October of a single charge of failing to provide a safe working environment.

In December 2017, the experienced stockman was tasked with drafting and weighing cattle owned by the company on a third-party's farm.

The court heard the man was working alone in an enclosed yard before he was later found deceased following a suspected attack by a stag which was observed to be in a highly agitated state.

A jury found that it was reasonably practicable for Midfield Meat to have a system in place that ensured another person was present to provide assistance in the event of an emergency.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said being crushed or trampled by cattle was the second most common cause of deaths on Victorian farms.

"This incident is a tragic example of the dangers faced by those working in agriculture and why employers and workers always need to be thinking about safety first," Dr Beer said.

"Whatever job you or your workers are doing on a farm, please consider what could go wrong, discuss it with your workers and take action to make sure you're providing a safe workplace."

To manage risks, duty holders should:

  • Where possible, use yards that are designed so people and cattle don't have to be in the same space and the cattle can move through easily.
  • Ensure there are accessible escape gates or pre-identified escape routes that don't require climbing over or under fences.
  • Maintain yards, races, gates and crushes to ensure hinges swing freely and that there are slam shut latches.
  • Ensure anyone working with cattle knows how to do so safely, including discussing escape routes where necessary.
  • Ensure workers understand particular cattle and how they're likely to behave when confined, nervous or agitated.
  • Talk about how particular crush and yards operate prior to starting work.

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