Dec 17th 2021
New Zealand pest control business fined for exposing workers to hazardous substance
A New Zealand pest control business has been fined $250,000 for exposing employees to toxic fumigants.
WorkSafe New Zealand launched an investigation after workers suffered acute methyl bromide poisoning.
The investigation found problems with fitting Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), with some workers not wearing them at all.
"Businesses shouldn't rely on RPE as the main way to look after the health of their workers. They need to consider the hierarchy of controls. This is a requirement under the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016," says Api Poutasi, Manager Health, Health & Technical Services at WorkSafe.
"In this case, workers were exposed due to the way the work was carried out, or due to ineffective respiratory protective equipment."
"Workers wearing RPE should be clean-shaven. Even a small amount of stubble can prevent a proper seal from forming. Vaseline does nothing to help this, and workers will still be wearing RPE which hasn't formed a seal based on incorrect information from their employer."
WorkSafe's investigation also found that workers had not been adequately trained to clean and maintain the RPE equipment.
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