Hand amputation slaps meat processor with $90K fine


Wednesday, 21 August, 2019


Hand amputation slaps meat processor with $90K fine

A meat processor has been fined $90,000 after a worker’s hand was severed at its Brooklyn plant. JBS Australia Pty Ltd was convicted in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to failing, so far as reasonably practicable, to provide a safe working environment that was without risk to health, according to WorkSafe Victoria. The court heard that the man was working on a production line, removing hides from sheep carcasses that had been missed by a machine known as the primary hide puller with a chain wrapped around his wrist when the incident occurred.

The chain got entangled with the back-up hide puller, which dragged him in and amputated his left hand. The court heard that just before the incident the primary hide puller had missed a number of carcasses and there were hectic scenes as workers quickly attached chains or straps to the backup hide puller, while leaving the machine running. According to the injured worker this was common practice when it was busy. Following the incident JBS Australia decommissioned the back-up hide puller and invested in new machinery.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for allowing workers to take unnecessary risks by using unsafe machinery or not powering down machinery when necessary. “This worker suffered a horrific, life-changing injury while operating hazardous machinery because a safe system of work was not in place,” Nielsen said. “Employers must ensure the safety of their workers is always their first priority.”

To prevent similar incidents, WorkSafe Victoria said employers should eliminate any hazards and risks. If this is not reasonably practicable, hazards and risks should be controlled through isolation or substitution. Additionally, staff should be trained in safe operation of the equipment and have access to written procedures in their first language. Safe operating procedures should be developed in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives. Compliant safety guards and gates must be fixed to machines at all times and machines and equipment should be regularly serviced and inspected. Finally, employers should place signs on or near a machine to alert employees of the dangers of operating it.

Image credit: © stock.adobe.com/au/nskyr2

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