When Butchering Goes Bad
Published on:10th July,2017 Category: Accident tips
Employers Duty of Care where an Employee is Required to Travel for Work
The Supreme Court of Queensland has recently handed down a decision of Kerle v BM Alliance Coal Operations Pty Limited & Ors  QSC 304.
The Facts.Amount settled:
Working as a butcher or in an abattoir is obviously a risky job. There are many workplace hazards that need to be properly assessed. We have had a look at just a few cases that have gone to court in Queensland as a result of accidents involving butchers.
In Ley v Woolworths Limited  QSC 59, a butcher suffered a neck injury as a result of his heavy manual duties. The worker alleged that his duties over the period of his employment had led to the onset of pain, pins and needles in his arm and a neck injury. Those duties included carrying heavy boxes of meat up and down stairs to the cold room, repetitive lifting and moving boxes of meat in cramped conditions in the cold room and pulling meat boxes off shelves. The worker also claimed that he couldn’t use the trolley to assist with moving the meat due to the cramped conditions in the cold room.
In Parry v Woolworths Limited  QCA 26, a butcher suffered a lower back injury at work as a result of lifting a tub of meat with a co-worker. The tub of meat in this particular case weighed somewhere in the vicinity of 44kg and the tub was designed to be picked up by two workers as it had handles on either side of the tub. At first instance the worker was not successful in proving that the duty of care owed by his employer had been breached, however, on appeal the worker was successful in his claim.
In Kemp Meats Pty Ltd v Tompkins  QCA 125, a butcher suffered a significant laceration to his hand while working. The butcher in this case had been working in the meat processing industry for over 25 years when he slipped with the knife while working and cut the extensor tendon in his left thumb. The evidence suggested he was unlikely to be able to work in future as a butcher. The worker’s claim was that he ought to have been required to wear cut resistant gloves while working.
In Caird v State of Queensland  QSC 17, a slaughterman was also injured as a result of an accident involving a knife he was using while performing his duties at work. The worker was accidently knocked during the course of his work and this caused the knife he was using to cut his left wrist. The case considered in detail the processes that were in place at the slaughterhouse and concluded that the employer had failed in its obligations to its workers by not insisting that its workers use appropriate gloves. Interestingly the court considered the pros and cons of using gloves including the risk of spreading bacteria and the fact that other slaughterhouses had been able to operate with the mandatory use of gloves.
In Maddern v Woolworths (Qld) Pty Ltd  QSC 275, a butcher suffered a knee injury after slipping on stairs at work. The worker had been wearing gumboots when he had left the butcher shop to use the bathroom. The worker had first hosed off his boots to remove any slippery substances using hot water. There was a dispute about whether the risk of slipping should have required the workers to remove their gumboots before using the stairs or whether the stair tread was excessively worn.
In John Ross La-Verty v Livestock and Meat Authority of Queensland  QSC 020, a worker claimed that he suffered a back injury when heavy sides of beef hanging from a track rail system fell down onto the worker. The rail track system was used for moving sides of beef around the factory and it was a well known problem that the bolts holding the sides of beef in place would often work themselves loose causing the sides of beef to fall to the floor. There was no doubt that this event had happened at work but there was a dispute between the parties about whether this event had caused the injury or whether the injury had been pre-existing.
If you need advice regarding workplace health and safety or if you require compensation advice, contact one of our expert lawyers today.