A mutton abattoir has been convicted and fined $35,000 after an employee fell from a raised platform and hit his head in 2019.

Ararat Abattoirs Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Ararat Magistrates’ Court on Friday to one charge of failing to provide and maintain safe systems of work, so far as was reasonably practicable.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of $2,930.

The court heard that workers would stand on a 1.5-metre-high platform to load refrigerated shipping containers with boxes of mutton.

On 2 November 2019, a worker was performing this task when he fell from the platform, hitting his head on the ground. He was taken to hospital and discharged two days later.

A WorkSafe investigation revealed that employees were at risk because the task of loading the shipping container was being performed on a raised platform, in proximity to an unprotected edge, with no fall protection in place. 

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said all workplaces must ensure they are doing everything reasonably possible to prevent the risk of falls from heights.

“Already this year there has been one death due to workplace falls. That comes after eight deaths and 1,307 injury claims for falls from heights last year,” Dr Beer said.

“Thankfully, nobody was killed in this case, but it serves as a warning to all employers to ensure they take proper measures to reduce or eliminate such risks.”

Tips on controlling the risk of falls in the workplace:

  • If possible, perform any work on the ground.
  • Use a passive fall prevention device (e.g. scaffolding or guard railing).
  • Use a work positioning system (e.g. industrial rope access system).
  • Install a fall arrest system (e.g. a catch platform).

Source: WorkSafe Victoria

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