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Manual Handling in the Meat Industry

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Workers Compensation Survival Guide

Workers Compensation Survival Guide for AMIEU Members

A few Do's and Don'ts to follow

Danger!  Do NOT do any of the following:

  1. Do not co-operate with insurance investigators or any one that cannot be clearly identified as your union representative or chosen legal representative. Tell them politely that you do not wish to talk to them.

  2. Do not sign any statements, statutory declarations or sworn statements before contacting the union office for advice.
  3. Do not allow yourself to be interviewed by anyone without having a reliable witness of your choice (preferably a union delegate) present.
  4. Do not answer any questions that are not directly about your accident - eg personal circumstances, emotional problems etc.
  5. Do not allow yourself to be interviewed if you are still suffering from shock or are receiving medical treatment that may affect your judgement.
    If you unable to read or write English do not rely on help from the company or insurance company - the union can and will provide assistance!
  6. Do NOT under any circumstances, take lists of alternative duties that the company may supply you, to your doctor. These duties are often referred to as light duties - doctors, in general do not understand the nature of the work performed in meat works and it is advisable that you explain in detail the type of duties that you may be required to perform.
  7. Do not attend any medical appointments that have not been made by yourself or by your doctor and relevant specialists - the company has no right whatsoever to make these appointments. Exceptions to this are when then insurance company requests an appointment or a registered Rehabilitation Provider requires further assessment.

                   Things you must do!

  8. As soon as practical, fill out your workers compensation claim form - if you need assistance because you do not understand the form or cannot read or write English ensure that a delegate gives you assistance. Unnecessary delays in receiving your payment will result if you do not comply with this!
  9. If you have any witnesses to the accident, get their names, addresses, contact phone numbers and ensure that they provide you with a statement. Request that these witnesses do NOT give any alternative statements to any insurance investigators, company representatives or anyone who is not readily identifiable as a union delegate, union official or your legal representative. These statements may end up being, in some legal sense conflicting and used against you.
    If you are classified by your doctor as fit for light duties, ask that an accredited Rehabilitation Provider be appointed to supervise any graduated return to work program for you. There have been cases where insurance companies have refused to pay workers who have been on "company return to work programs" when there has been shed closures! Workers who are on approved rehabilitation programs will continue to receive their workers compensation payments!
  10. You are entitled to the Rehabilitation Provider of your choice - if you are unsure and need any advice as to who is available please contact the union office.
    If you are unhappy with the conduct of your Rehabilitation Provider, you are entitled to seek an alternative one - again the union is able to provide advice on this.
  11. If any Rehabilitation Provider behaves in an unprofessional way, threatens or intimidates you in any way, notify the union immediately!
  12. You MUST comply as far as possible with your return to work program and remain in contact with your rehabilitation provider.
  13. You must notify your rehabilitation provider and your employer if you find the return to work program too difficult.Your rehabilitation provider is permitted to liaise with your doctor, yourself and your employer.
    There is no one better able to assess the level of pain that you are  in than YOU - do not allow other people to ridicule you into doing more than you believe you are capable of doing (without worsening your injury).
  14. If you require to see your doctor, you do NOT need the permission of the site nurse or any other company person - you do however need to notify them of your intentions to do so.
  15. Inform your doctor that as a meat worker you may be exposed to Zoonotic diseases (caught from animals) - especially if your injury has resulted in an open wound - if your doctor is considering putting you on light duties.
  16. If you are unable to come to work at any stage as a result of your injury you must notify your employer as soon as possible - if you do not have a telephone and are unable to get to a public phone, make every effort for someone else to do so on your behalf - make a note of the time and the person that you spoke to.
  17. Keep a notebook or diary for the period of your injury and treatment - paying particular attention to times and dates of medical appointments, costs of medical prescriptions, costs associated with travelling to medical appointments etc.
  18. Keep all receipts or photo copies of receipts.
  19. Keep photo copies of medical reports, medical certificates and letters to you that have anything at all to do with your claim.
  20. Insist that any repairs to any equipment that has malfunctioned and contributed towards an accident be deferred until an independant assessment of the equipment has been done - there have been many instances of company "cover ups". Your claim against the company may depend on this evidence. 

  21. Refuse to work on any equipment that you believe could place you in imminent and serious danger to your health and safety.
    Remember if you have any concerns at all about your claim - do not hesitate to call the union office - best regards to all members


     You ARE allowed to say NO!

Following a number of terrible workplace accidents in the meat industry, the Union is now running a campaign to try and stop workers from putting themselves, or allowing others to put them in situations of danger.

The meat industry uses incredibly dangerous machinery that can horribly disfigure workers for life.

Most of these accidents are caused through lack of proper training or unsafe handling.

Often heard at the scene of such accidents are:

"He got behind and I was just trying to help out."
"I didn't see any signs about it."
"I didn't know that you couldn't do that."
"There was no guard on it."
"The operation manual didn't say anything about that."
"The safety button wasn't working but I couldn't stop the line."
"I was trying to unjam it."

"Maintenance never fix anything property, its always just
  bandaid jobs."
"The boss told me to use it, what could I do?"

                What indeed?

The focus of this campaign is aimed at educating workers that just because someone, even the boss, tells you to do something, that doesn't automatically make it a lawful command.

Workers are required to follow all lawful commands at work, but if a command places a worker at any risk in terms of safety, then it is not a lawful command.

     You ARE allowed to say NO!

"No!  I haven't been trained."
"No!  I'm not sure how to use it."
"No!  The proper safety device isn't
  working, or worse, isn't fitted."
"No!  It's not safe."

Say No!

To Unsafe Work Practices

(photo by Andrew De La Rue -- 'The Age')


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