QLD abattoir worker fatally crushed by machinery

Thursday, 7 November, 2019 - 14:15
Incidents & prosecutions

A worker in Queensland was recently crushed to death after getting trapped in hydraulically operated stainless-steel bucket while manually handling goat carcasses.

A conveyor belt moves and loads carcasses into a hydraulically operated stainless-steel bucket, and once the bucket is loaded, it raises up and tips the carcasses into a ‘de-hairer’ machine.

The conveyor belt stopped when the ‘de-hairer’ feeder machine failed, and workers manually unloaded carcasses into the stainless-steel bucket. The worker was standing in the bucket when it unexpectedly began to raise.

As the 46-year-old attempted to step out of the bucket, he slipped and became wedged under a steel lip on the machine. The bucket dropped to its ‘home’ position, crushing the man across the upper torso and stomach area.

From 2014-15 to March 2018-19, 261 entrapment-related workers’ compensation claims were accepted relating to workers being trapped by moving machinery or equipment in the meat manufacturing industry.

During the same period, Workplace Health & Safety Queensland was notified of 62 events involving an entrapment-related incident at an abattoir.

Of these, 42 events (67 per cent) involved injury or illness requiring a person to have immediate treatment as an in-patient in a hospital.

In 2017, a company was fined $215,000 when an experienced plant operator was fatally crushed in a raised scissor hoist (part of a large piece of plant known as an Interleaver Phaser Machine or “IPM”).

It was not established how the worker accessed the hoist, but it was possible he climbed through a gap in a handrail, bypassing mechanisms which would lock-out/isolate the hoist.

Circumstances suggested he did this to access a limit switch which would sometimes fail when large boards were fed into the IPM.