Mr Chisholm argued it was not unforeseeable that the injury would occur and Cedar Meats should have been alert to the risk.
Barrister for Cedar Meats, Stephen Russell, said the injury was the first incident with the belt in 12 years and the offence was the company’s first.
“If the company realised someone could be injured in the way she was injured, they would have extended the guard,” Mr Russell said.
Cedar Meats pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe working environment under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which carries a maximum penalty of almost $1.5 million.
Cedar Meats general manager Tony Kairouz gave evidence that the incident was distressing and horrific.
“We do our best to mitigate danger [to] our staff,” Mr Kairouz said.
He told Ms Vea a job would always be open for her at the meatworks, which exports to countries including the United States, Malaysia and China.
He said the COVID-19 outbreak in his workplace, which occurred in April and May last year, was horrific. The outbreak resulted in 111 cases and was the state’s largest cluster during the first wave.
“It was a very traumatic time for me and the family and I took it very personally that this had encroached into our premises,” Mr Kairouz said.
Magistrate Gregory McNamara said Ms Vea’s injuries were serious and impacted her socially, mentally and physically. The magistrate considered the company’s lack of prior history, guilty plea and the steps it took to remedy the failings in deciding to issue a $15,000 fine without conviction.
“The company had been going now for a long time and doing this type of work and has no prior failings, so that suggests strongly it is a responsible employer, generally,” Mr McNamara said.
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