Written by Peter CarterSeptember 28, 2013
A Sarina slaughterman who avoided the use of a protective steel mesh glove because it slowed his work rate, has secured substantial damages as a result of a kill floor accident in August 2010.
Keith Tompkins was gutting pigs suspended from the chain on the kill floor by using his right hand to make a vertical top to bottom cut into the animals’ abdomen while at the same time, using his left hand to reach inside and hold the pig’s stomach away from the knife.
On this occasion, the blade suddenly diverged from its path as it struck bone and sliced along his left thumb. The wound healed but Tompkins found the performance of his duties difficult and painful on his return to the abattoir.
Eventually, he could no longer continue and was, as a result, required to vacate the on-site home that he and his wife occupied as a term of his employment. Kemp Meats claimed a complete defence to the injury compensation claim because of 44-yr-old Tompkins’ failure to wear cut-resistant mesh gloves and not keeping his unprotected left-hand clear of the knife.
Evidence in the 3 day Townsville trial revealed however that none of the slaughtermen worked with the cut-resistant gloves and the trial of their use had been abandoned because they interfered with efficiency and made a firm grip of slippery carcasses harder to achieve.
Needless to say, the use of cut resistant gloves has been made mandatory since this particular incident. The court was satisfied that the failure to mandate the use of such safety equipment was an act of negligence on the part of the employer and that it should be responsible for Tomkins injuries.
Injuries were assessed at around 10% of his left thumb and 2% on a “whole person” basis. Future economic loss, including the loss of housing for his family, was assessed at $233,000 leading to a total net assessment of $337,000.