Two Chinese nationals working under government visas in Australia were forced to work with broken hands and arms on unsafe equipment at a printing company in the Melbourne suburb of Campbellfield, a court heard Tuesday.

While recovering from work injuries, Zi Hong Fu and Cheng Cai were given jobs that still required them to use both hands, including working on their boss's home erecting steel beams while their hands were in plaster, the court was told.

Just weeks after breaking a wrist falling off a ladder while performing unqualified electrical work, 50-year-old Fu had to erect scaffolding on the factory roof, despite never having done it before.

Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court heard that while drilling into .3-inch thick metal plates with his unbroken left hand using a two-handed drill — supported between his chin and right hand — he ended up breaking that wrist too.

Ten days later he was told to come back to work at Lakeside Packaging to disassemble a machine while his left arm was still encased in plaster.

Lakeside Packaging pleaded guilty to seven charges, including failing to provide a safe workplace and failing to provide information, instruction, training and supervision in a language understood by the employees, between March and September 2006.

Neither of the Mandarin-speaking men could understand English. Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg adjourned the matter until July 2 when he will hand down his decision.

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