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WorkSafe New Zealand has accepted an Enforceable Undertaking from Directionz Limited, a company that installs and maintains road signs and services, following an incident with an angle grinder in May 2016 that lead to a worker losing their eye.
The worker was cutting bolts off a post on a bridge using a portable angle grinder. The blade being used disintegrated and sent fragments into the workers face, penetrating their safety glasses, and resulting in cuts to their cheek, eye region and forehead. The workers left eye was removed as a result of incident.
Following its investigation into the incident, WorkSafe alleged that Directionz had failed under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of a worker.
This is the sixth enforceable undertaking accepted by WorkSafe under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015; a tool that is increasingly being used, in appropriate cases, as a positive alternative to prosecution.
WorkSafe Manager Technical Programmes and Support, Simon Humphries, said the decision to accept the enforceable undertaking offered benefit beyond compliance, which would sufficiently benefit the workplace, industry and community.
“The incident has prompted major reform and rectifications in the standard operating procedures and safety protocols of Directionz. The enforceable undertaking will see a more vigilant approach to monitoring changing work conditions, from methodology, the type of equipment used and the personal protection equipment used by workers.”
“The victim supported the undertaking and agreed to assist with the deployment of a Trauma Management System to share their experience and assist others”.
Under the enforceable undertaking, Directionz Limited committed to initiatives summing at least $229,674 including:
- Providing financial reparation to the victim.
- Deploying a higher qualified Health, Safety, Quality and Environment Co-Ordinator to oversee implementation of commitments to improvements in health and safety systems.
- Providing Incident Cause Analysis Method training for regional managers.
- Having 10 operational supervisors accredited with the SiteSafe Supervisor Gold Card.
- Having all staff complete and pass the CONSTRUCTSAFE programme and SiteSafe passport.
- Engaging services of Massey University and other experts to provide a “best practice” working guide for laymen.
- Providing “safe operation” documentation for grinding equipment to retail and safety suppliers for distribution to staff.
- Making a donation to the Blind Foundation.
- Developing and delivering a work and safety programme for local high school students (16 students over two years).
Directionz Limited Managing Director, Reno Wijnstok, said that important and salutary lessons have been learned from the regrettable incident;
“This incident serves as a reminder to remain ever vigilant when assessing equipment and hazards. It also reinforces the use of appropriate personal protection equipment. The Company will take its lesson and assist others with a best practice user guide to avoid similar incidents”.
The full enforceable undertaking, together with WorkSafe’s reasons for its decision is available at: https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/laws-and-regulations/enforceable-undertakings/accepted-enforceable-undertakings/directionz-ltd/
WorkSafe will continue to monitor compliance of this enforceable undertaking.