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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



OSH Tracker

Department of Labour v Federal Industries Ltd (DC, 27/06/95)

OSH Tracker

Defendant:
Federal Industries
Lower Hutt firm Federal Industries Limited was fined $15,000 in the Wellington District Court on 27 June after an accident in January in which an employee was killed in an explosion when he used an oxy-acetylene torch to open an empty drum that had previously contained a flammable liquid. The firm was fined $10,000 on a s6 charge of failing to ensure employee safety and $5000 on a s7 charge of failing to have an effective method for identifying existing hazards.  The deceased man's fiancee was awarded $7500 and the man's family $2500 from the fine total. At the scene the OSH investigating inspector noted a label on the drum indicating it was a Class 3 flammable product which gives off highly flammable vapour. There was no doubt, he reported, that the spark from the cutting torch ignited the fumes and caused the explosion. Interviews with several maintenance staff members revealed drum lids had been removed in this manner on a regular basis over several years.  OSH Lower Hutt branch manager Keny Gordon says the case again highlights the dangers of cutting open potentially hazardous drums with welding or cutting torches, which has caused fatal or severe injuries in several incidents.  A preferred work method is to use a cold chisel or sharpened piece of hardened steel to open a drum.  Care also needs to be taken, Gordon says, in verifying the exact nature of the contents last in the drum - it may have been subsequently used to store a different material from the originally labelled contents. 
Industry:
Manufacturing
Sub-Industry:
Metal Product Manufacturing
Risk:
Burns/explosion
Harm:
Death
Penalty Amount:
$15000.00
Reparation Amount:
$10000.00
Appeared in Safeguard issue 33

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