The man had a long history of violence. Picture: iStock
The man had a long history of violence. Picture: iStock

QLD butcher fined $600K over brutal workplace brawl

A BUTCHERY business has been ordered to pay nearly $600,000 in damages for failing to prevent a vicious workplace fist fight.

Late last month, the Queensland District Court found the company negligent for failing to keep two warring workers separated, resulting in a violent attack on January 20, 2014.

Earlier that day the colleagues, who worked as knife hands and butchers, got into a verbal spat following a long period of tension between the two.

They were both ordered to report to an office, but on the way, one worker attacked the other from behind.

The man was punched several times in the head and face before other employees could restrain the attacker.

The injured man was on workers' compensation for a period of time before returning to work, but later developed post-traumatic stress disorder, which he said was the result of the assault.

The man claimed his employer knew his attacker had a long history of violence and that it had failed to prevent the attack from happening.

The attacker, who had been described by his victim as a "ticking time bomb", had previously served time in jail after being convicted of doing "racially motivated" grievous bodily harm with intent to do grievous bodily harm and occasioning actual bodily harm in the UK.

He had also been involved in a separate verbal argument with a different co-worker at the same specialist butchery business, as well as a string of other incidents on other jobs.

The victim claimed his attacker was "a very intimidating person" who often spoke about his "violent past" and that "at previous workplaces he had always knocked someone out".

The 43-year-old said he had spoken out about his concern for his own safety and that the situation "was like a ticking time bomb".

In legal documents seen by, the court ruled that "the assault was foreseeable" and that "the separation of the two was a relatively simple and inexpensive step to avoid it".

The company's failure to separate the workers was a "breach of the duty of care", and as a result, the business was ordered to pay $584,995.09 to cover and past and future economic loss.

The court also heard from a medical expert who said it would be "unlikely" that the victim would be capable of working more than 20 hours per week as a result of the attack.

The man had been "completely unable to do paid work" since 2015.