A holiday worker was knocked out after he was caught on a mutton slaughter chain at the AFFCO Talleys plant in the Bay of Plenty.
The incident on Friday at Rangiuru left the 20-year-old German man with cuts to his face and head, as well as damaging his teeth.
Meat Workers Union organising director Darien Fenton is questioning why an inexperienced temporary worker was put in such a dangerous situation.
"Normally with holiday workers they do a bit of cleaning and a bit of sweeping and that sort of stuff, and he was put on the frontline with knives and machinery and paid the price."
The man was employed on December 9 and WorkSafe is looking into the incident.
Ms Fenton says the incident not only has an impact on the New Zealand workforce, but also the country's international reputation.
"It isn't a good look for holiday workers to come to New Zealand and be put in these kinds of situations."
AFFCO general manager Andy Leonard says the injured worker had gone through standard training and the role he was in at the time wasn't complex or "particularly dangerous".
"He received standard training for the position which was a trainee induction, a departmental induction and a buddy, on-the-job training system until he was deemed competent and signed off, which he was signed off for."
When the union talks about the dangerous work environment, Mr Leonard says they are probably referring to the room "as a whole".
"But the role the young gentleman was doing doesn't involve any equipment and isn't technical and isn't particularly complex to learn," he said. "We feel our systems are solid and probably right up there with the best in the industry."
Ms Fenton says another serious accident in which a man had a hook through his head happened at the same plant and in the same area as the latest incident.
That employee hadn't returned to work since and the prosecution is still ongoing, she says.