Midfield Meat has pleaded not guilty to failing to provide a safe working environment after a long-time employee was killed by a bull near Dunkeld almost four years ago.
The meat processing giant appeared in the Warrnambool County Court on Monday where a jury was empanelled and a trial started.
Midfield pleaded not guilty to two charges of failing to provide a safe working environment under the OHS Act. The charges related to an incident on December 15, 2017 when 49-year-old Warrnambool Midfield Meat worker Pat Smith was attacked by a large bull stag at Dunkeld farming property 'Wandobah'.
Jurors heard from prosecutor Megan Tittensor on Monday and will hear the defence's opening address on Tuesday.
Ms Tittensor said the jury must consider whether Midfield, as at December 15, 2017, had done everything it reasonably could to make sure the working environment was safe.
She said Mr Smith was one of a number of field officers employed at Midfield who had worked in various positions for more than 20 years.
She said Mr Smith was a "very experienced stockman" who attended the Dunkeld farm to weigh cattle and was killed by a stag - an animal that had been incorrectly castrated so that one testicle, as well as levels of testosterone, remained.
She said Midfield's boss Dean McKenna told police in an interview in the month after Mr Smith's death that it was "preventable".
Ms Tittensor said the prosecution would allege that Midfield didn't have a system in place to ensure employees weren't working in an enclosed space with dangerous cattle, and that if something went wrong, an employee had considered an escape route and had someone there to help out.
She said on December 15, 2017, Mr Smith attended the Dunkeld farm where owner Craig Oliver had 107 cattle being agisted.
The court heard Mr Smith had previously indicated he would be weighing the cattle by himself upon his arrival.
Ms Tittnesor said Mr Oliver was working about five kilometres from where Mr Smith was weighing the cattle when he received a phone call from the victim at 8.53am.
There was no response and the farmer assumed the phone call was an accident.
Ms Tittnesor said at 9.20am Mr Oliver arrived at the stockyard to find Mr Smith lying injured and unresponsive.
The prosecutor said the jury would hear from Mr Oliver, who attempted to perform CPR on Mr Smith who died at the scene.
She said Mr Oliver would tell the jury that he noticed a bull stag was agitated when he mustered cattle in the yard earlier that morning, and even more so when he returned to the yard to find the victim unresponsive.
The jurors were told they would also hear from Mr McKenna who attended the Dunkeld farm after hearing about the "catastrophic" incident.
Ms Tittnesor said Mr McKenna quickly identified the animal was a stag, which he knew could be more agitated than steers and could lead to aggressive behaviour.
She said the jury would hear Mr McKenna's statement to police on January 30, 2018, which included him saying Mr Smith's death was preventable and that the animal in question "should not have been there due to it being known as a dangerous animal".
Ms Tittnesor said the jury would also hear from two police officers, a WorkSafe investigator and other field officers who conducted similar type of work.
The trial before Judge Michael O'Connor continues on Tuesday.
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