A PCBU that failed to act on a ringing hazardous-chemical alarm has been fined heavily over a worker's death from hydrogen sulphide gas, in a similar incident to one that killed two workers and attracted a record WHS penalty in NSW.

In August 2017, worker Jim Gideon was overcome by hydrogen sulphide gas from a treatment pit and died while mixing reactive chemicals to treat hazardous waste.

During the fatal shift, the facility's hydrogen sulphide alarm rang repeatedly, but work was allowed to continue, an investigation found.

Gideon collapsed mid-afternoon after being exposed to at least 500 parts per million of the toxic gas – 50 times greater than New Zealand's maximum workplace exposure limit of 10 parts per million over an eight-hour period, it found.

Waste Management NZ Ltd was fined NZ$450,000 (A$407,412) and ordered to pay a total of NZ$360,000 (A$325,930) reparations.

Wellington District Court found the PCBU, breached the country's Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 in exposing an individual to the risk of death or serious injury, from toxic gas, through its failure to comply with its duty to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers.

The regulator said in a statement it uncovered health and safety failings at "every level" of the operation, with breaches including the improper storage and identification of hazardous substances, a lack of personal protective equipment for workers, and inadequate risk assessments.

Source: OHS Alert 1 June 2022


A Hamilton nursery that provides seedlings to the forestry industry has been fined $52,500 after a worker was seriously injured while using a machine.

Hamilton Magistrates’ Court heard that in October 2020, the injured worker was tasked with putting seed trays through a seeding line machine, which places seed in the tray cells as they move along a conveyor belt.

The worker reached into the machine, which she believed was turned off, to clear the spilled seeds and her arm became entangled between a moving feeder bar and an axle, causing serious injury to her hand and wrist.

The court heard that the company had failed to install required guarding around the exit of the machine and that it had been reasonably practicable to do so to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury.

Source: WorkSafe News 07 June 2022

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