AN ABATTOIR has been fined $350,000 following the death of a worker crushed while cleaning a machine used to restrain cattle.Abraham Yak, 32, is believed to have inadvertently hit the controls on a rotating knocking box while bending into the machine to retrieve a cleaning wipe.
He was crushed by the box, which is used to restrain animals before they are stunned and killed.
Mr Yak died in hospital nine days after the accident.
A County Court jury today found Gippsland-based Tabro Meat Pty Ltd of failing to provide a safe system of work and failing to provide information, instruction, training or supervision to Mr Yak in November 2010.
In sentencing the company, Judge John Smallwood said while the case was an example of the extreme consequences of a company breaching its duties, he did not believe Tabro had blatantly disregarded the safety of its workers.
He said there had been no incidents involving the machine since it was installed seven years ago and he could see how a false sense of security could have developed over that time.
Mr Yak had been employed in a different area of the abattoir but was offered overtime to clean the machine.
The company says he was only asked to hose the machine.
Judge Smallwood said the fine would be of real significance because the company had been doing it tough in recent years, owing to the strength of the Australian dollar.
"Whilst the machine had operated for an extensive period of time without incident . . . on that particular day, the lack of training became extraordinarily evident," he said.
"It seems clear that Mr Yak did not know what the machine could do or how it could work.
"The company is not charged with killing Mr Yak but it seems to me the real offence here is the lack of training and information which may have been provided to others but was not provided to that unfortunate man."