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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



OSH Tracker

Department of Labour v Auckland Pack & Cool Ltd (DC, 08/08/12)

OSH Tracker

Defendant:
Auckland Pack & Cool Ltd
The use of inappropriate respiratory gear in an oxygen-deficient kiwifruit coolstore – and a lack of emergency procedures – almost cost an employee his life after his oxygen supply was cut off and the first two attempts to extract him were unsuccessful.Auckland Pack & Cool Ltd was fined $84,625 on two s6 charges and ordered to pay reparation of $12,250 (Manukau DC, 8 August 2012).The July 2011 incident occurred in a set of four connected coolstores which store kiwifruit in an environment of only two percent oxygen.To get fruit samples for quality testing the procedure was for two people fitted with respirators to enter through a manhole while a third waited outside to monitor the air supply and accept the samples.Compressed air was supplied to the three-metre dual airline-supplied respirator via a single hose to a filtering unit which bifurcated to feed two hoses – one for each person.Each person had to move the air hose by dragging it behind them as they moved into each connected coolstore.Both men had retrieved samples from the first two stores without incident.One of them had just delivered another batch to the third person at the entrance when he discovered the other man slumped unconscious in the second coolstore.He tried but failed to extract his colleague so returned to the entrance and alerted the third person, who donned his apparatus (there were only two sets) and went in.He too was unsuccessful.A company director arrived, put on the apparatus, and retrieved the unconscious man, who appeared not to have a pulse.Staff administered CPR and he was discharged from hospital after three days.The most likely cause was that the hose supplying air to the victim had become disconnected at the joint in the supply line.The joint’s connector could be uncoupled with a single action of drawing back the collar on the female connector – in violation of AS/NZS 1715:2009 – which could have happened when the device was being pulled along.The broader failure was that the wrong breathing equipment was in use.The manufacturer’s instructions for the respirator stated it was not for use in atmospheres containing less than 19.5% oxygen.The AS/NZS standard recommends SCBA, or an air-line supplied respirator with a SCBA attached to the operator to provide emergency air if the regulator’s air supply failed. 
Industry:
Transport and Storage
Sub-Industry:
Storage
Risk:
Confined space
Harm:
Injury
Penalty Amount:
$96875.00
Reparation Amount:
$12250.00
Appeared in Safeguard issue 135

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