Meatworks guilty over worker's death

A Gippsland meat processing company has been found guilty over the death of a worker who was crushed while cleaning a machine in its slaughter room.

Tabro Meat Pty Ltd was found guilty on Friday (30 November 2012) on two charges relating to the death of employee Abraham Yak. It followed a two-week trial in the Morwell County Court.

The company, which operates a meat processing factory between Wonthaggi and Korumburra, was found guilty of failing to provide or maintain a safe system of work, and failing to provide information, instruction, training or supervision in relation the task of cleaning a rotating knocking box.

The court heard that on 12 November 2010, Mr Yak was asked to clean a rotating knocking box, a machine which uses hydraulic panels to securely hold animals before they are stunned and killed.

He was later found crushed between the top lid and side of the machine.

Mr Yak suffered serious injuries and was flown by air ambulance to the Alfred Hospital where he was placed on life support. He died nine days later when his life support system was shut down.

The court heard that on the day before the incident, Mr Yak was one of four staff offered overtime work cleaning in the slaughter room.

The court was told that Mr Yak had never been trained how to clean the knocking box and there was no isolation switch on the knocking box to shut off power to the control panel before cleaning or maintenance.

WorkSafe General Manager of Health and Safety, Lisa Sturzenegger, described the incident as a serious breach of safety standards by Tabro Meat.

“A worker who came to work that day wanting to earn some overtime died because the company failed in its obligation to him, and to every other employee who had unknowingly risked their lives due to the unsafe system of work employed by the company," she said.

“Every employee has the right to expect to get home safely every night.”

Tabro Meat will face a plea hearing on February 1, 2013 at the County Court in Melbourne.