One of the largest cleaning companies in New Zealand has been ordered to pay $75,000 after two of its employees required plastic surgery after suffering chemical burns because of poor supervision.
OCS Ltd was sentenced in Napier District Court yesterday on two charges of failing to take all practicable steps to protect a man and woman employed to clean the slaughter floor of Progressive Meats in Hastings.
Judge Geoff Rea fined the company $65,000 and ordered it to pay $5000 reparation to each employee.
The employees used a heavy-duty cleaning chemical called Magnafoam, which was to be dispensed using a hand pump or an automatic dilution system.
On November 13, 2010, the man suffered burns to his lower leg and ankle. Three days later the woman suffered burns to her right wrist and thumb.
In early December, a Progressive Meats risk adviser made an unannounced visit to the plant and found an employee using undiluted Magnafoam.
Judge Rea accepted that OCS had systems in place to properly train employees, and that it "regarded health and safety as a top priority", but found its supervision of the employees inadequate.
The company did not have "a sufficiently robust system of supervision that should have prevented employees from unauthorised access to undiluted Magnafoam".
"I am quite satisfied that although as a matter of policy the defendant strived for high health and safety standards what was actually happening at [the site] in relation to undiluted Magnafoam fell woefully below accepted health and safety standards," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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