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Basic health and safety obligations not met

Aug 3rd 2021

Basic health and safety obligations not met

Basic health and safety obligations not met - worker poisoned. 

Charges have been laid against a pest bait manufacturing organisation in New Zealand for an incident in May 2019, where a worker almost lost his life.

The company that manufactures baits and pest control products was experiencing issues with the supply of sodium fluoroacetate (more commonly known as 1080), the toxic active ingredient used in the products, so it had set up an internal project to manufacture its own supply.

Production of the highly toxic substance was undertaken in a purpose-built self-contained chemical processing container inside an empty industrial unit. During the first trial of sodium fluoroacetate, an unexpected chemical reaction resulted in a loss of containment. The affected worker spent four weeks in hospital being treated for fluoroacetate poisoning and a further two months recuperating out of hospital.

The Head of Specialist Interventions said. 'His urine fluoroacetate reading was more than 500 times higher than WorkSafe's Biological Exposure Index limit, and he was extremely lucky to survive.'

WorkSafe investigations found multiple failings, including there was no structured hazard and operability study before commissioning the operation; there weren't safe ventilation arrangements for the chemical processing container (including for when it was operating under negative pressure) and failures to, implement, and communicate a safe system of work for the operation.

The company received four charges in Christchurch District Court under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017, and was fined $275,000 plus repatriation costs to the victim.

The original article can be viewed on WorkSafe NZ's website. 

Inquest into Brisbane photographers death from crane fall. 

An inquest into the death of a Brisbane photographer who plunged 40m to his death from a platform attached to a crane will not delve into any liability or responsibility.

Coroner Donald MacKenzie is examining the tragic circumstances of the death that occurred six years ago. It would determine what should be put in place to prevent future accidents from happening.

The deceased man was employed to take photographs of a construction site for ad-rendering purposes when he fell from an elevated work platform after a crane collapsed into an empty land block in December 2015.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, principal inspector, Deb Dargan, who assessed the incident, gave evidence the site was like a 'pie crust' as the soil looked firm but underneath was like a plasticky clay.

The court heard that the EWP operator was not 'too comfortable about taking the vehicle down to the bottom of the site' but changed his attitude after visiting the site. Ms Dargan said EWP operators training relied heavily on practical experience and only received basic certifications to operate the machines.

Counsel assisting the coroner Mark Plunkett said there were no proper practice guidelines for using EWPs outside of simple certifications at the time of the incident. A critical focus on the inquest would involve the suitability of industry practices for elevated work platforms (EWPs). The inquest continues.

The original article can be viewed on The Courier Mail website. 

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