Fears should be discussed

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 10:00 26/07/2013

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Communication between employers and employees is key to getting through an event like an earthquake, says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

A ministry spokesman said it was the responsibility of building owners and employers to identify hazards to their staff at work and to take all practicable steps to ensure that they were protected from those hazards.

Building owners might be required to upgrade their buildings if they were deemed unsafe or unsanitary, he said.

"If that is the case the local territorial authority would issue them a notice to make improvements," he said.

He also noted that employees had the right to refuse to work if they believed it was likely to cause them serious harm, although this should be discussed with the employer.

"On the subject of an employee continuing to be paid while refusing to do work, this will depend on the circumstances of the individual case, including the terms of employment."

Some Marlborough businesses closed briefly following Sunday's magnitude 6.5 earthquake which struck off the coast of Seddon, although few remained completely shut.

Farmers Blenheim was closed until Wednesday morning while waiting for clearance from engineers that the building was safe to occupy.

"It's just making 1000 per cent sure that the building is safe after Christchurch," store manager Karen Stevenson said.

"Farmers puts people first; the customers and the staff are more important than the building. Lives are priceless."

Ms Stevenson said the Farmers national chain had elected to put their own structural engineers through their buildings in Marlborough, Wellington and Nelson after Sunday's quake.

The staff had been undergoing customer service training on Monday while they waited for the all clear.

Three organisations have relocated from their usual premises, in Porse House, after concerns over the safety of the building.

Both Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and Community Law Marlborough were working out of the Community Link building in Alfred St temporarily.

"We can assure clients that we are still operational, and we have relocated staff while we await further information from both engineers and the building owner," a CYFS spokesperson said.

"Once we are confident we have the information we need, we will be able to review plans for returning to our offices in Porse House."

Community Law team leader Raewyn Tretheway said their organisation would be working from Community Link until noon today and would review their options from there.

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Porse House has been declared as safe to occupy by two independent structural engineers.

The Marlborough Primary Health Organisation is temporarily located on site at Wairau Hospital.

- The Marlborough Express

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