Heads must roll over Kaimai Tunnel Gas incident
Health and Safety
10 March 2013
Heads must roll over Kaimai Tunnel Gas
Revelations that ten rail contract workers could have died through exposure to gas in the Kaimai Tunnel shows gross negligence on the part of those responsible, says Darien Fenton, Labour's Health and Safety spokesperson.
"KiwiRail says it has learned from the incident, but it is unclear whether anyone has been held to account.
"Sending workers into the tunnel with insufficient gas protection equipment, inadequate training and without supervision was negligent in the extreme. Failing to comply with health and safety instructions for working in tunnels and gas safety is not good enough in an industry known to be dangerous and complex.
“The KiwiRail manager took over an hour to get to the tunnel after the incident was reported and failed to take the men for a medical check-up. This is a basic requirement that should not have been overlooked after such significant exposure.
"At the heart of this incident is the fact that work in the Kaimai Tunnel was contracted out. It is obvious that KiwiRail didn’t take the adequate precautions in working with contractors less experienced than its own staff.
“Frankly these workers health and safety was overlooked. It was only through good luck that this incident wasn't a whole lot worse and workers didn't die,” Darien Fenton said.