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Tranz Rail Ltd fined $15,000 after worker injected


Tranz Rail was fined $15,000 today after being prosecuted by the Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH).

The prosecution came after an accident in July 2000 where a worker was injected by a high-pressure discharge of grease while he was preparing to clear a blockage on the nozzle of a blocked railway track-greasing machine.

"The worker required surgery to remove copious amounts of grease from around his tendons and nerves," said Brian Stratford, OSH Service Manager, Nelson.

"He was unable to work for several weeks and now has a permanent loss of sensation in part of his right hand and has long term lower arm and wrist problems.

"In this case, the judge commented that some corporate entities will only respond to economic disincentives and that these companies must be given high financial penalties. He also noted that there was a public odium and loss of good will that comes from being known as a company whose operations pose dangers to it's employees.

"This is the company's eighth conviction under the Health and Safety in Employment Act. In addition the accident wasn't reported immediately to OSH."

The case also highlights the dangers of working with high-pressure lubrications equipment.

High-pressure grease accidents are now less common than a few years ago as the automotive and industrial industries now use sealed bearings that do not require regular greasing. However, workplaces still need to be aware of this hazard.

"The grease discharging from the nozzle of the unit was an obvious hazard, " said Mr Stratford.

"The company could have taken further steps to avoid the risk of this serious injury such as ensuring there were adequate instructions in the operating manuals and by modifying the grease pressure release system."

For further information:

Brian Stratford, Service Manager, OSH Nelson, Tel 03 546 8180, brian.stratford@osh.dol.govt.nz

Madeleine Setchell Business Adviser - Public Relations Occupational Safety and Health Tel 04 915 43 90 www.osh.dol.govt.nz

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