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Company Fined $5,000 After Worker Poisoned

Company Fined $5,000 After Worker Poisoned By Carbon Monoxide

Pacifica Seafoods Limited has been fined $5,000 after being prosecuted by the Occupational Safety & Health Service (OSH).

The company was sentenced yesterday at the Christchurch District Court.

"Workers had been cleaning in a chiller, when one collapsed and was taken to hospital," said Margaret Radford, Service Manager of OSH Canterbury - West Coast Region.

"Later that day another worker complained to his supervisor of a bad headache. He was also taken to hospital, and a blood test revealed that he had carbon monoxide poisoning. "A forklift powered by LPG had been transporting large bags of mussels in the chiller, during the earlier part of the evening.

"The chiller was a large enclosed space, and had no means of ventilation with fresh air, other than natural ventilation through the doors. With no means of clearing the exhaust fumes from the LPG forklift, carbon monoxide levels built up.

"Usually an electric forklift was used in the chiller, but the machine could not be used this particular evening because it required repairs. An alternative safe means of lifting and transporting bags of mussels within the chiller was not used.

"This prosecution should serve to warn employers of the dangers of operating combustion engine forklifts in poorly ventilated areas," said Ms Radford.

"Fortunately, the victim did not suffer any lasting ill effect from this incident."

"There have been a number of incidents in recent years where workers have been taken to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.

"The hazards of operating combustion engine forklifts in poorly ventilated areas, such as chillers and holds of ships, should be well known to industry. The best solution is to eliminate the hazard completely, and use only electric forklifts in such areas."


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