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Court Summary - at a glance
- Ensure identification and documentation of site specific hazards and the appropriate controls needed to eliminate, isolate or minimise the hazards and effectively communicate these to employees.
In this instance, the Defendant should have ensured that the following site specific controls were used:
- Having no ignition source present when applying a flammable solvent based contact adhesive by following the correct working sequence that the LPG gas torch was not used while the flammable solvent based contact adhesive was open and being used in the same enclosed area.
- Safely ventilating the bathroom area when using a flammable solvent based contact adhesive or, if this was not possible due to the secure nature of the facility or the dimensions of the working environment, using a non-flammable water based contact adhesive; and
- Ensure that employees have available on site and wear the appropriate personnel protection equipment when using a flammable solvent based contact adhesive.
The Defendant was contracted by the Waikato District Health Board (“WDHB”) to provide general flooring services which included installing vinyl at one of the WDHB sites.
At the time of the incident, two employees of the Defendant were working at a secure mental health facility. The windows at the site were secured and could not be opened. There was an extractor fan, however, this was not in use.
One employee used an LPG gas blow torch to heat and mould the vinyl for installation. The other employee used a solvent based adhesive named Ados F55 (also known as CRC 8052 F55 Red) which is a Class 3.1B hazardous substance and is highly flammable.
A fireball occurred when the vapours of the adhesive were ignited by the naked flame from the gas torch. One of the employees received burns to approximately 21 to 25 percent of his total body.