Company fined $100k over coolstore incident
An Auckland company has been fined nearly $100,000 after an employee nearly died when collecting fruit samples from a coolstore.
Pack and Cool Ltd were fined $84,625 and ordered to pay $12,250 reparation for two breaches of the Health and Safety Act when they appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday.
The court heard how the worker, who had been with the company for two years, lost consciousness from a lack of oxygen while retrieving kiwifruit samples in July last year.
He and one of his colleagues entered the coolstore - which is made up of 2 per cent oxygen and 5 per cent carbon dioxide - using a dual airline supplied respirator.
The worker's breathing apparatus malfunctioned and he passed out unconscious on the floor.
Neither his colleague nor another employee nearby was able to pull the unconscious man from the coolstore and he was finally rescued by one of the company directors.
The workers administered CPR until emergency services arrived and revived the man.
He was then taken to hospital where he remained for three days.
At Middlemore Hospital he was put in an induced coma and his short-term memory was temporarily affected.
"This man is very lucky to be alive. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's investigations concluded that he was given inappropriate breathing equipment to carry out work in this hazardous oxygen-deprived environment," Northern health and safety manager John Howard said.
"In fact, Auckland Pack and Cool did not follow the manufacturer's instructions which explicitly stated that the respirator should not be used in 'areas where atmospheres are oxygen deficient' - the type of environment that the worker was required in work in."
Pack and Cool Ltd director Craig Lemon would not comment on the scale of the fine only saying "the court's made its decision and we accept that decision".
He would not confirm or deny whether the employee was still working at the Alfriston premises.
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