North Island Mussels Limited has been fined with at least $200,000 by a Tauranga court following the loss of an eye by one of their employees. The company was further ordered to settle a repatriation amounting to $60,000.
According to WorkSafe, the employee had no other choice but to decant a cleaning product as no safer system was put in place for that purpose. The employee was decanting a product when a piece of it struck him on the eye sullying a chemical on his eyeball.
The impact of the piece and the corrosive chemical damaged his eye to the extent that it had to be removed. To make matters even worse, the scrapping meant that a prosthetic eye couldn’t be fitted on the eye socket.
The statement by WorkSafe further blamed the company for not providing a mechanical system which would have enhanced the safety of the employee. A subsequent investigation on the company highlighted more recklessness by the company in terms of ensuring the safety of their employees.
There were no suitable controls in case of an emergency, protective equipment was not in place and the company lacked a proactive emergency system.
The company apologised and assured the court through their lawyer that they have already worked on the recommendations made by the investigative team at the company. They also acknowledged the effort of the employee who had the courage to talk about what happened and help the company learn. The lawyer said that the company regrets the loss of the eye by one of the employees and acknowledged the fact that the incident will affect the life of that person for the rest of his life.
Other than the system being improved and safer, the company held a training session for the staff on topics related to safety.