MALENY Dairies co-owner Ross Hopper.
MALENY Dairies co-owner Ross Hopper. Nicky Moffat

Staff still recovering after death at Maleny Dairies

MALENY Dairies co-owner Ross Hopper has had a tumultuous year.

It was three weeks ago today that employee Ted Gavey was injured by angle grinder discs while working in the dairy's maintenance shed. Tragically, the 59-year-old Currimundi man died that day from his injuries.

The period since the incident had been challenging, Mr Hopper said, as he worked out how to support his close-knit team.

Staff were deeply affected, and continued to receive counselling and talk about it at work, he said.

"They're really shocked - because it's a real family feel here, and it affected everyone," Mr Hopper said.

He had tried to help by answering questions as they were raised and not "fob them off".

There wasn't any suggestion the accident had been anyone's fault, Mr Hopper said, and he didn't think staff were worried about safety on their work site.

They were recovering, he said, and the stark reality for Mr Hopper was that the dairy had to go on.

Contracts with suppliers had to be met, meaning the factory remained in production.

"The accident threw a spanner in the works, sort of," he said.

"But everyone's moving on."

The hinterland dairy's 45-person staff received a welcome boost recently when January sales topped the company's record.

It was unusual for January, which is often a slow time, but Sunshine Coast businesses had profited from the good weather and increased visitation, and were ordering confidently, Mr Hopper said.

Maleny Dairies is one of 50 Sunshine Coast businesses who are part of the Food and Agribusiness Network, which launched in December and wants to see food production in the region double by 2030.

"We can double definitely and that's what we're aiming for," Mr Hopper said.