Thomas Foods International faces prosecution after worker injury

Thomas Foods International is being prosecuted after a backpacking meat worker sustained severe burns when he fell into a bath of harmful cleaning chemicals.

The incident happened in October last year when the Taiwanese worker, in Australia on a 457 temporary work visa, had been cleaning hooks by himself at the company’s hook room at its Murray Bridge abattoir when he fell into a 65°C floor level caustic soda bath, sustaining burns to nearly a third of his body, the Advertiser reports.

SafeWork SA is prosecuting the company over the incident which they claim was not reported to authorities for more than 12 hours.

SafeWork alleges the company breached its health and safety duty by allowing the employee to work with sodium hydroxide. They also claim the company did not provide necessary training and supervision to ensure the worker was protected from safety risks.

Thomas Foods denies the two counts of work health and safety law breaches.

In April, Big Mars, a labour hire company that imported Chinese and Taiwanese workers for the state’s abattoirs received a fine $240,000 over the incident when they admitted to breaching “extremely serious” workplace laws.

The industrial court found the company had failed to provide adequate instructions to non-English speaking workers in their native language.

The case is set for April 2017.

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