Talley's fined over staff breathing poison fumes

Talley's Frozen Foods Ltd has been fined $110,000 after 11 workers at its Blenheim plant suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from forklift fumes.

Talley's Frozen Foods also must pay $3000 in reparation to each of the workers for emotional harm.

After a three-day hearing in the Blenheim District Court, Judge Michael Behrens convicted the company on 11 charges of failing to take all practical steps to ensure the safety of the employees, in that they were exposed to the hazard of carbon monoxide fumes.

The Department of Labour brought the charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

The court heard the forklift driver was under pressure and working alone on June 19, 2006. He had been instructed to use the LPG forklift in the formfill pack-out area of the Old Renwick Road plant, and was unaware of the danger of carbon monoxide fumes in an enclosed area.

Labour Department counsel Andrew Gane said the harm must have been at the high end, with the victims not knowing what was going on, being taken to hospital and treated with oxygen for up to seven hours in some cases, and without knowledge of the hazard.

Talleys' counsel, Garry Barkle, said the company had taken remedial action, and its now excluded LPG forklifts from the formfill area.

The judge fined the company $10,000 on each of the 11 charges, and ordered reparation of $3000 to each of the 11 employees affected, and costs of $150 on each charge.


The Press