Business successfully sued by worker after fall

A former employee at national meatworks company Teys Australia has been unsuccessful in a $120,000 negligence claim sparked after he slipped and suffered serious injuries, allegedly due to unsafe work conditions.

Reinaldo Manca began work at Teys Australia, Beenleigh in June 2019.

He had previously worked for several years in the meatworking industry across Brazil and Ireland, Brisbane District Court documents stated.

On February 11, 2020 Mr Manca finished his shift on the blooding floor and while walking to the cleaning station, slipped on steps, falling backwards and badly hurting his left side.

Court documents stated he broke a rib and suffered a soft tissue injury on his left side and continued to be in permanent, considerable pain.

Teys terminated Mr Manca’s contract on November 13, 2020 after he returned from leave and was continuing work on light duties.

Mr Manca said his injuries caused him to sleep poorly and he was unable to lift his left arm above horizontal height without considerable pain, the documents said.

As a consequence, he had been unable to work in the meat industry or, as he had hoped, move to the mining industry.

Mr Manca sought damages of $119,276 for lost income.

He alleged the Teys’ plant had unsafe work conditions, particularly the slippery floor, which he claimed was to blame for the fall.

He also alleged in his court claim that Tays did not adequately repair the damaged and worn edges of the steps.

During a three-day trial co-worker Mitchell Fry, who had worked at Teys for six years, gave evidence about the messy conditions of the steps.

“I used to whinge about them all the time because they used to get bloodied,” he said according to the court documents.

“The blood would clot – the blood trays underneath would overflow from being blocked up and I used to whinge about them being slippery.

“The blood congeals on to the tray and it would slide down and splash up onto the steps.”

Mr Manca gave evidence that, while working on the blooding floor, the tread on the soles of his boots would become filled with congealed blood.

He said he was unable to wash or scrape out the congealed blood from his boots as nothing was provided to do that in the washdown cubicle.

Company procedure was that at the end of a shift a meatworker would go into a washdown cubicle, wash their tools and rinse off their apron and boots.

Teys claimed, but Mr Manca denied, that there was a hose with a trigger head in each washdown cubicle.

Judge Ken Barlow ruled Teys was not negligent in its duties and dismissed the case, with no damages awarded.

The decision was appealed on February 20 this year in the Court of Appeal, but the original finding was upheld.

Source: Gold Coast Bulletin

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