Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) conducted a state-wide meat processing industry engagement and enforcement campaign between June 2022 — February 2023.
The campaign aimed to prevent and minimise the risk of injuries to workers in high-risk meat processing workplaces and increase industry compliance. It focussed on meat processing workplaces with claims above the workers' compensation average industry rates and included meat abattoirs (medium and large), wholesale meat (large), and value adding small goods meat processing workplaces (large).
Key risks identified
The key work health and safety (WHS) risks identified during the campaign were:
- unsafe handling and moving of objects
- unsafe manual tasks
- slips, trips and falls
- falling objects and working at height without protection
- inadequate plant guarding
- cuts and lacerations
- use of inadequate hand tools (knives and electric tools).
WHSQ inspectors assessed 48 meat processing workplaces and issued 142 enforcement actions for non-compliance including:
- 116 improvement notices
- two infringement notices ($7,200 fines incurred)
- four prohibition notices
- 20 immediate compliances (issues resolved during the inspection).
The most frequent non-compliant issues identified were:
|Area of non-compliance||Issues|
|Plant equipment risk|
|System of work|
|Slip, trip and fall|
Campaign recommendations for meat processors
- Record all WHS risks and non-compliance issues in a risk register in order of priority, from very high, to low risk.
- Regularly consult with workers and their health and safety representatives to identify hazards and risks and add these to a risk register.
- Use the hierarchy of controls to implement control measures to manage risks in consultation with workers.
- Implement a system to monitor and review the ongoing suitability and effectiveness of controls.
- Communicate with all workers to ensure they understand the systems in place to manage risks. Ensure workers adhere to established systems, through effective supervision.
- Train and educate workers (including on specific control measures) on how to manage key WHS risks. Consider the key risks identified in this campaign (i.e. workers not trained in LOTO procedures, workers not having access to locks, tags and equipment, plant not fitted with guards etc).
The following resources will assist you to improve safety processes and ensure compliance.
- Self-assessment tool for workplaces (PDF, 1.31 MB)
- Knives at work
- How to keep young workers safe when they use knives and cutting tools at work (PDF, 0.28 MB)
- Knife sharpening programs in the red meat processing industry
- Guide to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 0.35 MB) (includes information on training, instruction and supervision)
- Labour hire agencies: Managing the safety of on-hired workers (PDF, 0.28 MB)
- Host employers: Managing the safety of labour hire workers (PDF, 0.26 MB)
Codes of practice
- Work health and safety consultation, co-operation and co-ordination Code of Practice 2011 (PDF, 0.49 MB)
- How to manage work health and safety risks Code of Practice 2011 (PDF, 0.65 MB)
- Hazardous manual tasks Code of Practice 2011
- Managing risks of plant in the workplace Code of Practice 2013 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- Managing the work environment and facilities Code of Practice 2011 (PDF, 0.57 MB) (includes falling objects and working at heights)
- Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace Code of Practice 2013 (PDF, 1.21 MB)
Injury Prevention and Management Program
Take advantage of tailored, face-to-face advice provided by our Injury Prevention and Management (IPaM) advisors. IPaM advisors can assist to assess your systems and advise you on how to make improvements. The IPaM service is free for Queensland businesses. Register for IPaM now to talk to an advisor or email for more information.