$380k Fine for Getting a bit Gassy: Another Call to Check your Forklifts and Hazardous Substances

Last week ‘Tasman Tannary’ learned a hard lesson about ventilation and hazardous substances. See the NZ Heralds: Whanganui worker knocked out by exposure to potentially deadly gas

What Happened?

  • In April 2016 a fork hoist driver lost consciousness twice after being exposed to hydrogen sulphide
  • During the second incident he suffered concussion and gashes to the face.“He fell to the ground, striking the back of his head on the floor. He regained consciousness, but he was disorientated, and he attempted to get back on to his forklift, and then he lost consciousness again and this time he fell forward, striking his face on the ground.”
  • previous hydrogen sulphide chemical spill at the tannery in November 2012 saw 21 people affected with the two worst-affected being flown to Wellington Hospital in a critical condition.

What did the Court Say? Essentially ‘You Muppet’s, you didn’t learn the first time’

  • ·WorkSafeNZ chief inspector Keith Stewart said there were numerous failings, including a lack of training and warnings, and failure to provide personal gas monitors. “These failures led to unnecessary and unacceptable injuries to a worker.”
  • “The dangers of hydrogen sulphide gas were well-known in the tanning industry, and the worker was shifting containers when he was overcome by the gas.”
  • “When a business is held to account for breaches of the law, ensuring the breaches aren’t repeated is a cornerstone of good health and safety practice. Failing to do so is a breach of workers’ rights to a safe workplace.”
  • Tasman Tanning was fined $380,000 for breaches of safety and ordered to pay $18,000 in compensation to the forklift driver.

What can you do about your Hazardous Substances Issues?

  1.   Learn from mistakes and close out corrective actions
  2.    If required, conduct environmental monitoring and develop a plan to manage any risks present
  3.    If you know that certain gases are present ensure you complete regular gas monitoring tests
  4.    Use engineering answers (HVAC) to manage ventilation
  5.    Don’t even get me started on gas testing and confined spaces…..


Given that the Hazardous Substances new regulations go live on the 1st of December, let me know if you have anything to add.

Have a safe and productive week,


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