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Butcher and butcher's assistant (wholesale)

Butchers are responsible for transfer of raw meat products from storage area to process room for preparation (cutting, scaling, filleting, de-boning) and packing or re-packaging for despatch to customers.

Tasks and tools used

  • lifting equipment: pallet jacks, trolleys
  • knives and mallets
  • cryovac machines
  • repackaging of goods (unpacking and packing of boxes with the use of pallets and trolleys)
  • preparing meat to order including filleting, dicing, tenderising, mincing and using a bandsaw
  • packaging process orders and transferring to dispatch, including labelling and the use of trolleys to store in the chiller room
  • general cleaning including removal of laden and empty tubs from the work area, placing tubs in the storeroom, hosing out tubs and hosing down the floors and work benches.

Personal protective equipment

  • apron
  • steel cap shoes
  • hair net and beard net
  • optional: Mesh/Kevlar gloves and wrist guards.

Critical physical job demands and other task requirements

Critical job
demand descriptor

% of time the
task is performed




  • Constant walking
  • Constant dynamic standing



  • Repetitive forceful gripping of items (uni / bilaterally)
  • Frequent prolonged neck flexion
  • Repetitive rapid movement of the arm /hand
  • Frequent lifting and lowering of varying weights (up to 30kg)
    • From ground to shoulder height
    • Often with the weight held away from the body given depth of tub
  • Frequent squatting under load
  • Frequent trunk bending /twisting under load
  • Frequent pushing /pulling of pallet jack or dolly trolleys (load variable)



  • Occasional push/pull loaded dolly trolley
  • Occasional forwards reaching under load
  • Occasional lifting up to 30kg from ground to chest height



  • General cleaning tasks that may involve the following awkward postures
    • Trunk flexion to hose out upended tubs on the floor
    • Trunk flexion / lunge whilst sliding tubs along floor into a stack
    • Dragging / pulling stack of empty tubs onto pallet jack to move them to storage

Suitable duties

  • goals must be clear, realistic and achievable
  • must have 'buy-in' from the worker
  • worker helps to set the goals, and must be answerable if goals are not met (this allows barriers to return to work to be identified at an early stage and obstacles overcome)
  • workers need to understand they have an obligation to participate in rehabilitation and return to work as per Section 232 of the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the Act).

Return to work suggestions

Worker can begin with light duties and include more tasks as their capacity for work changes. We'll work with all parties, including the treating medical provider, employer and worker to ensure everyone is aware of where the worker is with their rehabilitation and stay at, or return to work.

Note: some tasks are dependent on worker's injury and capacity, and some tasks may require the assistance of a co-worker.


Return to work can begin at home for those having difficulty with transport, medication or the injury prevents them from returning to work.

If the worker needs to take a break from work, their rehabilitation can still begin at home. Tasks can include:

  • video on safety issues can be viewed (lying in bed if injury type requires)
  • computer-based programs, CDs or DVD on work related subjects
  • phone-based work
  • emails
  • training
  • other worksite inductions
  • checking or auditing paperwork, e.g. helping the WHSO audit lost time injuries (LTI's) for a six month period.

Host employment

In the event an employer is unable to provide suitable duties, a host placement may be required. If this is the case, the worker may be placed at a different employer in a graduated return to work plan until they're able to 'upgrade' back to his/her pre-injury role with their pre-injury employer.

WorkCover's Recover at work program places injured workers in short term host employment with employers who have an established track record of successful return to work outcomes with their own workers.

More return to work resources