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Workplace safety in the meat industry

Australia is renown around the globe for producing top-quality meat, with the meat industry worth tens of billions of dollars to the economy. In recent months, the work days of some the country’s abattoirs and meat processing plants have been disrupted by vegan protesters chaining themselves to equipment and threatening workers. While these protests have drawn large scale attention to the meat industry and have put the safety of meat workers at risk, they aren’t the only work safety issues they face in their daily duties.

What are the risks?

In addition to the normal range of occupational health and safety issues and the extraordinary ones currently being faced by meat workers, there are some inherent dangers and risks in the industry. The meat industry has one of the highest rates for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) as well as laceration injuries associated with knife work. According to Safe Work Australia, one in two workers suffer from serious injuries have an MSD injury.

Aside from MSD and knife injuries, other potential risks include:

  • Manual handling such as slaughtering, boning, smallgoods manufacturing, rendering, retail butchering, wrapping and packing;
  • Potentially dangerous nature of work premises and physical environment such as, electricity, exposure of noise, confined spaces, people falling, handling livestock, etc;
  • Plant equipment and tools (use of knives, forklifts, vehicles, etc);
  • Hitting or being hit by objects, such as unpredictable moving animals;
  • Falls, slips and trip hazards;
  • Biological hazards, including any exposure to infectious organisms.

These risks can be reduced by employers by:

  • Having regular maintenance and servicing of equipment, including ensuring that knives are kept sharp (one of the biggest risks is blunt knives);
  • Providing the correct protective equipment;
  • Keeping the environment free from clutter and hazards;
  • Providing ongoing training to employees and keeping licences up to date.

Getting better all the time

Good workplace practices and increased awareness and knowledge of safety has helped to keep meat workers more safe in recent years. From 2008 to 2016, there was a huge decline in incidents, complaints and dangerous events of 46% in Queensland's meat processing industry. This highlights the importance of workplace health and safety management plans.

Shine Lawyers – Contact Us

If you’ve been injured while working in the meat industry you may have a claim for workers compensation. Shine Lawyers can help you to make a claim for compensation and seek the justice you deserve. A qualified expert can help you to access the compensation you’re entitled to in order to get your life back on track. Shine Lawyers are experts in workers compensation claims and work on a no win, no fee basis.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: April 29, 2019.

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