A family run bakery is facing a possible $396k fine after an employee was maimed in a workplace accident. But the victim told a court it was his manager’s unsympathetic words after the incident that cut deep. A man who cried when his finger was sliced off in a workplace accident was criticised by his boss for being unmanly, a court has heard.
The traumatised contractor, who worked at Davies Bakery in Broadmeadows, was unloading bread from a conveyor belt when his finger was severed by a malfunctioning slicer in June, 2018, the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday.
In a victim impact statement read to the court by WorkCover prosecutor Morgan Brown, the man said he was mortified to see his finger lying on the ground after reaching into the jammed slicer and burst into tears. But the shocks kept coming when his colleagues wrapped his hand in toilet paper, didn’t bother to call an ambulance and failed to put his finger on ice.
“I felt I was abandoned,” the man said in his statement. “The manager was driving me to the hospital and was telling me to be a man.”
He told the court in his statement he suffered flashbacks and had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. He also wrote that his injury rendered him unable to work or have sex with his wife.
Stephen Russell, for Davies Bakery, told the court the incident was a freak accident and not something the company could have foreseen. Past risk assessments failed to identify any hazards with the equipment, which had since been replaced. And he told the court the likelihood of a hand or finger fitting inside the slicer was minimal.
“It’s put quite firmly on behalf of the company that this was not a situation where the company was reckless,” Mr Russell told the court.
Davies Bakery was a family run business that had been in operation for more than 130 years, Mr Russell told the court. It supplied products to major national supermarkets, schools, hospitals and prisons, and he urged the court not to convict the company.
“The commercial reality is having a conviction for a matter such as this could create a situation where future business (from these clients) may be put in jeopardy,” he told the court.
But Ms Brown told the court another employee was injured about 12 months earlier at the same site — although the court heard the incident occurred in part due to employee error. She told the court it showed safer work practises were needed, including proper guarding on machinery so staff were less likely to be hurt.
The court also heard there was no suggestion the victim in this case was at fault or responsible for his injury.
Matthew Davies, the company’s owner, pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to ensure a safe workplace.
Davies Bakery faces a fine of up to $396,425 over the incident.
Magistrate Martin Grinberg adjourned the matter for sentencing.
Source: Herald Sun