Forestry worker injured in 3.5 metre fall
A pulp mill has today been fined a total of $37,000 after an employee suffered serious injuries when he fell 3.5 metres into a service pit at a forestry site in February last year.
The Ohakune District Court heard that the employee was a kiln operator who was responsible for cleaning and maintenance when he fell and fractured and dislocated his left foot.
His employer, Winstone Pulp International Limited, based in Ohakune, was fined $37,000 and ordered to pay $8,100 in reparation following the accident on 18 February 2011.
“The cleaning system that was connected to the kiln had become blocked with ash. The employee climbed the metal frame of the cleaning system to find the reason for the blockage,” says the Department’s Acting Palmerston North Service Manager David Hulston.
“Hot ash spewed out when he opened the hatch and as a result he could not close it again. As he attempted to climb down the frame he fell 3.5 metres into the uncovered service pit,” Mr Hulston says.
“Our investigation found that there were no measures in place to protect the employee from the hazard of a fall from height and hot ash. This is simply unacceptable.”
“While Winstone Pulp has since improved its practices for managing blockages in the cleaning system – the Department will not tolerate unacceptable hazard management plans,” Mr Hulston says.
“This employee has suffered serious injuries as a result of an accident which could have been avoided entirely if the right processes and procedures had been in place.”
Notes to Editor
- Winstone Pulp International Limited was convicted on one charge under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 which 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.