Company fined after employee loses sight
An Aluminium joinery repair and maintenance contractor was yesterday fined $10,000.00 and ordered to pay reparations of $15,000.00 after a workplace accident caused an employee to lose sight in one eye after just two days in the job.
The Tauranga District Court heard that on 9 May 2011 Kerry Bruce Duggan, trading as Mr Alifix, and his employee, were working on the third level of scaffolding to remove window panes from the Tauranga Boys’ College gymnasium.
Mr Alifix demonstrated to his employee how to remove rubber seals from aluminium retaining beading using a screwdriver. His employee was then given a wood chisel to use instead of the screwdriver, to remove the seals.
“Unfortunately, while the employee was working on a rubber seal at face level, the chisel slipped and hit the employee in the left eye resulting in permanent loss of sight,” says the Department of Labour’s (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) Central General Manager Ona De Rooy.
During the investigation of the accident, the Department found that a few simple measures could have been put in place that would have significantly reduced the potential for harm.
“It is unacceptable that Mr Duggan failed to adequately prepare his employee to carry out this work. A safe procedure for removing seals from window frames should have been established, appropriate tools such as a specific pry tool or putty knife should have been used and protective eyewear should have been worn. This would have prevented an accident such as this from happening,” says Ms De Rooy.
Notes to Editor
- Kerry Bruce Duggan, trading as Mr Alifix, was charged with one offence under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
- Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 states: Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to—
(a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and
(b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and
(c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and
(d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—
(i) in their place of work; or
(ii) near their place of work and under the employer's control; and
(e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.
- The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online.