The early morning death of a Taranaki cleaner has prompted a WorkSafe New Zealand reminder for businesses to think around the clock when it comes to worker safety.
74-year-old Robin Killeen died doing cleaning work in December 2019 at ANZCO in Eltham. The company and its subsidiary, Riverlands Eltham Limited (REL), have been sentenced in the Hāwera District Court for health and safety failings. Mr Killeen's employer, Kia Ma Limited, has pleaded not guilty and is still before the courts.
Mr Killeen became trapped after climbing into a bin lifter to clean it. The evidence indicates he operated the controls from inside but was unable to stop the machine.
A WorkSafe investigation found ANZCO should have developed a safe operating procedure for cleaning of the machine, and REL should have had better hazard identification and risk assessment about the cleaning process.
“Commercial cleaning is a high-pressure industry that works on tight timeframes. Safety must come ahead of whatever appears to be the quickest and easiest way to do the job,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Paul West.
“You may have very competent staff and thorough procedures onsite in daylight hours. But many businesses have cleaners or other contractors coming in after hours for maintenance, so it’s critical to consider these people in health and safety planning and assessment of risks.
“Robin Killeen’s death is also a warning for other interlinked companies to ensure their health and safety practices align. Front-foot the discussion, agree your procedures and document them clearly to avoid catastrophic consequences,” says Paul West.
- ANZCO Foods Limited and Riverlands Eltham Limited were sentenced at Hāwera District Court on 4 July 2022
- A fine of $340,000 was imposed. An order to pay reparations of $105,000 was also made (90% is payable immediately by ANZCO and REL).
- ANZCO was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- Being a PCBU, having a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, namely cleaning the meat processing plant, did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed any individual, namely Robin Killeen, to a risk of death or serious injury.
- REL was sentenced under Sections 36(1)(b), 48(1) and 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- Being a PCBU, having a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the PCBU, while the workers are carrying out the work, namely cleaning meat processing plant, did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed any individual, namely Robin Killeen, to a risk of death or serious injury.
- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.