Kaikoura employer fined for lax health and safety and use of personal protective equipment after teenager was blinded in one eye

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When a WorkSafe inspector asked Anderson if he told workers to use protective gear, he replied, “I’m not their mother and I go and dress them every morning.”

Anderson confirmed that he did not give the 17-year-old victim full instructions on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety glasses, because in his own words “it’ was common sense.”

Anderson also told WorkSafe that he felt it was too expensive to buy PPE, saying “I’m too small for this kind of…keep going.”

Hayden Mander, national investigations manager for WorkSafe, said the employer’s comments reflect an outdated, unacceptable and cavalier attitude.

“A young man at the start of his working life now has severely impaired vision. It’s mind-boggling for an employer not to understand the seriousness of the situation,” he said.

“The cost of health and safety is part of the cost of doing business. The worker should have been provided with appropriate PPE, including eye protection, and be required to wear it when using a chisel and hammer or any other task where there is a risk of injury to the eye.”

Mander said workers who are vulnerable because of their age, inexperience or employment conditions may be less likely to question health and safety practices or speak up when in doubt.

“Beyond the obvious health and safety shortcomings in this case, it is both illegal and morally wrong for an employer of any size not to inform WorkSafe of an incident like this. No employer is exempt,” he added.

Anderson was sentenced in Kaikoura District Court on July 15, 2022 and ordered to pay $22,500 for emotional harm and consequential loss.

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