Skip to Content, Skip to Navigation

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Australia: temp agency failures

Australia: temp agency failures
Article Type:
Publication Date:

A labour hire company which supplied temporary staff from Taiwan and China to an abattoir in South Australia has been fined A$240,000 for multiple failures after one of its migrant employees fell into a caustic soda bath (Magistrates Court of SA, 27 April 2016).

The worker from Taiwan was employed by Big Mars Pty Ltd and spoke little or no English. He started at the abattoir in Murray Bridge, operated by Thomas Foods (also charged), in May 2013. In November he was assigned to work alone in the hook room where he cleaned batches of hooks by lowering them into a bath of heated water and sodium hydroxide.

A Thomas Foods employee told him to shut the gates around the bath at the end of the shift. However he developed the practice of looping a spare hose to keep the gates open during work, a practice readily observable to any supervisor. He fell into the bath and sustained chemical burns to his lower body, including full thickness burns to 32% of his total body surface area. Numerous skin grafts and seven surgeries followed, including an infection which set his recovery back. He eventually returned to Taiwan.

Big Mars said it had no health and safety or risk management procedures, leaving these to Thomas Foods where 40 of its staff worked. Its on-site supervisor had never entered the hook room. It had not inspected the workplace for hazards to which its staff would be exposed. It took no steps to assist workers who could not read English. The victim had asked the supervisor for help in translating the work instructions, only to be told to do the job himself using an online translation dictionary. He was not told the bath contained a hazardous substance, nor what to do if he came into contact with the liquid.

The magistrate found that Big Mars had taken none of a series of straightforward steps it was obliged to take. “It failed miserably to carry out any of its fundamental safety responsibilities.”

Read the judgment here.



Organisations Mentioned:
Thomas Foods; Big Mars Pty
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Table of Contents