Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has published the results of its poultry processing industry audit campaign, revealing that 49 notices were handed out for a range of issues, including problems relating to fixed plant, poor maintenance, knives and electrical equipment.
The report also highlights how notices needed to be issued for failures in provision of personal protective equipment, systems of work, training, hazardous chemicals, and slips, trips and falls.
The audits were carried out because the Queensland poultry processing industry has consistently had higher claim rates when compared with others in the wider manufacturing industry. In 2017–18, the claim incidence rate per 1000 employees (time lost claims) for the manufacturing industry was 16, significantly lower than the poultry processing sector at 29.3.
Poultry processors and labour hire suppliers were audited with a focus on reducing the risk of injury to all workers in the industry, including labour hire and visa workers.
The key risks for workers in this industry are musculoskeletal disorders due to:
- lifting, carrying or pushing stacked crates of product
- repetitive tasks from deboning hundreds of chickens with little opportunity to take breaks to maintain knives adequately
- repetitive reaching into bins, creating awkward postures
- falls at level on slippery and uneven surfaces.
The audit campaign results are currently being reviewed with a view to revisiting all assessed poultry processors, as well as any new ones, to target specific risks identified during the audits.