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Tuesday, 18 November 1986
Page: 2426

Senator MICHAEL BAUME(9.09) —During the consideration of the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, attention was drawn to the very high compensation rate. The number of claims equalled about 30 per cent of the work force of that Department, which is an incredibly large proportion. When this matter was raised during the Senate Estimates committee hearing, it was pointed out by the Department-in fact, an answer to a question on notice was given to me in writing-that when examining compensation claims from the Department of Primary Industry staff, it must be realised that approximately 70 per cent of the staff are involved in inspection duties. These duties take place mainly in abattoirs in an environment which is noisy, wet, slippery and has a great deal of movement of slaughtered animals.

Following that Estimates committee hearing, and following advice from the Department that knife cuts represented about 29 per cent of compensation injuries, and slips and falls about 28 per cent, I received notification from a company called Shannon Industrial Painting and also from Vessey Chemicals Pty Ltd that some abattoirs have resolved this problem by applying a non-skid epoxy to the floor. I wondered whether the Department had examined this non-skid flooring for meatworks, in view of the clearly unacceptable level of compensation payments being required to be met, I presume out of the public purse. I do not know whether the inspection fees charged to the meatworks cover this very high level of compensation payment and I simply wonder whether the Department has a view of the benefit or otherwise of seeking to have this non-skid flooring applied in appropriate areas where there is evidence of continual injury.