An Afghan refugee employed as a labourer on the process line at a Teys Bros meatworks has been compelled to seek court orders to permit his safety consultant to inspect the abattoir to compile a report as to the safety deficiencies that led to his injury.
Mohammad Askari was assigned the task of making knife cuts around the horns of beasts as their cut-off heads passed by on a chain at the rate of 183/hour.
This “freeing up off flesh” was done at the same time as cutting meat from the underside of the beasts’ chins and throwing the off-cuts down a chute behind him.
Tacked on to those roles was a further duty every day: to lift off from the chain, hundreds of cow heads that bore a green “reject” stamp and to also cast them down the chute.
In August 2011 he was removing a “reject head” which did not easily come off the hook. The hook with head attached came off the chain, requiring him to separate it from the head before sending the beast’s brain-box on its way down the chute.
As he twisted and turned to throw the head, he sustained an injury in his back said to have been caused by the awkwardness of the motion – lifting twisting – and by the chute being behind him, to his right and with only a fairly narrow chute entry at chest height.
He further contended his limited induction had been compromised at the hands of a Filipino co-worker who – because he could not speak English – was only capable of training by demonstration, not by giving specific instructions.
Teys’ lawyers resisted his application for the inspection of the premises on the basis that the particular things sought to be inspected were not referenced in the pleadings.
Judge Nicholas Samios in Brisbane’s District Court ruled that “there is a broader context in which the plaintiff should be permitted to examine by his expert that might otherwise prevent him from obtaining a just resolution of the matter unless the order was made”.
Teys also objected to the appointment of Roger Kahler as the inspecting expert because of something alleged to have been done on another occasion when inspecting another site.
This assertion was also rejected and the inspection sought by the plaintiff was ordered to proceed to allow expert Kahler to do his work.