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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



OSH Tracker

WorkSafe New Zealand v Kiwi Nails and Spa Ltd (DC, 20/02/17)

OSH Tracker

Defendant:
Kiwi Nails and Spa Ltd
Kiwi Nails & Spa Ltd was fined $13,500 under the HSNO Act after it was found to be using a substance, methacrylate, which is banned for use in cosmetic products because its fumes are known to cause drowsiness, headaches and trembling hands, and it can damage and irritate nails and skin on contact (Auckland DC, 21 February 2017). 
Industry:
Personal and Other Services
Sub-Industry:
Personal Services
Risk:
Hazardous substance exposure
Harm:
None
Penalty Amount:
$13500.00
Reparation Amount:
$0.00
Appeared in Safeguard issue 162

Judgment Text

NOTES OF JUDGE R J COLLINS ON SENTENCING 
Judge R J Collins
[1]
For sentence is the company Kiwi Nails and Spa Limited. The defendant has pleaded guilty to one charge under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. I will record the facts on which the defendant is to be sentenced in a moment but the essence of the charge is that the defendant company used the chemical compound methyl methacrylate which is a banned product in cosmetic use. 
[2]
The legislative and regulatory path by which the defendant became liable is complicated but the core allegation is quite simple. The defendant company used, in its workplace, a banned substance. The defendant company operates a nail salon in Silverdale. Mr Fan is the sole director and shareholder and an employee of the defendant. As has already been discussed with counsel in Court this morning it is important not to conflate or interpose Mr Fan as the defendant even though he can be seen as the effective operative of the defendant company. 
[3]
The defendant provides a range of cosmetic services to clients, including the attachment of acrylic artificial nails. The process of attaching acrylic nails involves artificial nail tips being attached to client's existing nails using glue, a brush is then used to cover the artificial and real nail with an acrylic monomer liquid and a powder. This creates the acrylic finish and ensures no visible join and a strong bond between the artificial and the natural nails. 
[4]
At the salon workbenches the liquid used in the procedure is kept in two pots alongside a powder. The banned substance here, methyl methacrylate commonly known as MMA, is a substance principally used in the manufacture of polymethyl methacrylate acrylic plastics. It is low cost, sets quickly and creates a strong hold if used as a bonding agent to attach acrylic nails. However, it is well known to cause nail damage, irritation of the skin and eyes on contact and its fumes can cause drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and trembling hands. Workers have a high likelihood of suffering harm if exposed to the fumes throughout the working day. Clients who receive acrylic nails are at risk of suffering nail damage and deformities in nail growth. 
[5]
On 15 March an environmental health officer from Auckland Council visited the salon and noticed an odour in the air that smelt like a solvent but was different to the smell she usually noticed in nail salons. She took photographs of a bottle labelled “KDS Sunscreen Liquid” which was in a cupboard in the back room of the salon. The environmental health officer spoke to the defendant's manager, Mr Fan, who told her that the KDS sunscreen liquid that was used by the manicure ladies. After reading the material safety data sheet for KDS sunscreen the environmental officer ascertained that it contained MMA. Two days later notification was given by the Council environmental officer to WorkSafe New Zealand that she found what she thought to be MMA at the defendant's salon. 
[6]
On 28 April two inspectors from WorkSafe visited the salon. The KDS sunscreen liquid was not found. The inspectors noticed flammable substances were stored in the shop. In response to flammable substances the next day another enforcement officer at WorkSafe issued the defendant company with a compliance order requiring it to cease storing quantities of what are known as class 3.1B substances, namely isopropyl alcohol and acetone. 
[7]
On 19 May an inspector visited the salon to check if the compliance order had been complied with and the defendant had complied. Before leaving the inspector asked Mr Fan to open a cupboard in the storeroom. The cupboard contained one bottle of the KDS sunscreen liquid. Samples were seized under s 172 Health and Safety Work Act 2015. Testing of the samples showed that it was over 90 percent MMA. 
[8]
Inspectors returned on 20 May and took samples of the liquid in the two pots at the work bench where acrylic nails are applied to the client's nails. These pots contain liquid used on acrylic nails. Testing showed that one pot contained 39.26 percent MMA and the other 2.4 percent MMA. A further compliance order was issued requiring the defendant to stop using MMA in cosmetic products. 
[9]
On 8 September 2016 inspectors returned to the salon. No KDS sunscreen liquid was found. A sample of the liquid in the pot at the work bench was taken and was found to contain 1.56 percent MMA. 
[10]
It is important to note the charge relates to events on 19 May and the charge is and relates to using MMA as a component or ingredient of a cosmetic product, namely a liquid used for acrylic nails. The defendant was not charged for that small amount of 1.56 percent as being in breach of a compliance order. 
[11]
I have had provided particularly helpful written submissions both by the prosecution and Mr Cullen for the defendant company. It seems that both parties are agreed that the methodological approach to be taken comes from the health and safety approach taken by the full Court in the now leading case of DOL v Hanham and Philp1
| X |Footnote: 1
DOL v Hanham and Philp Contractors (2009) 9 NZELC 93 
and that culpability is to is to be assessed by giving consideration to the following factors; the identification of the operative acts or omissions at issue, and the full Court there said that this will usually involve the clear identification of the practical steps which the Court finds it was reasonable for the offender to have taken in terms of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. Obviously that aspect works by way of analogy when we are dealing with a charge under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. In any event the identification of the operative acts is an aggravating factor here because from the information provided to me this product was well known as one that should not be used as a cosmetic product. 
[12]
The second factor in assessing culpability is in assessment of the nature and seriousness of the risk of harm occurring as well as the realised risk. It is argued here that there was no realised risk but the nature and seriousness of risk of harm occurring was well known. 
[13]
The third factor is the degree of departure from standards prevailing in the relevant industry. My assessment is this was a substantial departure from industry standards. 
[14]
Fourthly, the obviousness of the hazard. That has already been covered to an extent under the other three factors. It was well known that this was a product that should not be used and the obviousness of the danger and risk was readily apparent. 
[15]
Fifthly, the availability, cost and effectiveness of the means necessary to avoid the hazard. I am informed that there are ample lawful and safe alternative products which could be used. 
[16]
Sixthly, is the current state of knowledge of the risks and the nature and severity of the harm which could result. That has already been covered. And that is apparent. And the current state of knowledge of the means available to avoid the hazard or mitigate the risk of its occurrence, that has also been covered. 
[17]
I suspect that the helpfulness of drawing on health and safety prosecutions and jurisprudence is limited by this fact. Here we are dealing with a product which per se had already been defined and identified as hazardous in a certain situation, ie, being used as a cosmetic product. It is not therefore like the situation under the Health and Safety in Employment Act where a particular risk had not been contemplated by an employer when it should have been. This was a hazardous substance which, as I say, by definition had been declared as such. Counsel have referred to two cases as providing assistance. They are District Court decisions of WorkSafe New Zealand v A and J Brasting Limited and Dunedin City Council v Leanne De Jong
[18]
The prosecution submit that the case falls in terms of culpability, between those two. Mr Cullen for the defendant submits that it is less serious. I agree with the prosecution that it falls between the two. The prosecution submit that an appropriate starting point would be a fine of $25,000, a discount of $2500 for general mitigating factors such as no previous conviction and co-operation in the investigation and then a 25 percent discount for guilty plea. 
[19]
While I agree that the case falls between the two authorities referred to in my view the starting point should be a fine of $20,000. I would allow a $2000 discount for the mitigating factors which have been identified and a $4,500 discount for the guilty plea which has saved the cost of a trial. Therefore by that route the fine to be imposed is one of $13,500. There will be costs to the prosecution of $1569.75 


DOL v Hanham and Philp Contractors (2009) 9 NZELC 93 

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