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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



OSH Tracker

Department of Labour v Fume-It Ltd (DC, 27/09/02)

OSH Tracker

Defendant:
Fume-It
A soil fumigation company that did not follow instructions when using a toxic agricultural chemical was convicted on 42 charges after people living near the work area were affected by escaping gas. Fume-It Ltd was fined $7000 on four s.16(1)(a) charges relating to people who suffered serious harm, and $2000 in respect of another 38 victims, with both fines to be divided among the injured parties (Napier DC, 27 September). The defendant was engaged to fumigate an orchard using the chemical chloropicrin, which is a dangerous poison and gives off a toxic gas. It is intended to be used only on moist soil and the surface should then be sealed with polythene or water to prevent gas escaping. The defendant tested moisture content by tossing a ball of soil into the air. When it did not break up after two or three throws it was concluded that the moisture content was sufficient. During fumigation a roller compacted the treated soil but no other seal was used. Later that evening neighbouring residents developed signs of chloropicrin exposure, including respiratory problems, nausea and sore eyes, requiring the area to be evacuated overnight. 
Industry:
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Sub-Industry:
Services to Agriculture; Hunting and Trapping
Risk:
Hazardous substance exposure
Harm:
Injury
Penalty Amount:
$9000.00
Reparation Amount:
$9000.00
Appeared in Safeguard issue 78

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