In New Zealand, a health-related prosecution of an Ashburton animal feed producers for failing to manage the risks of dust exposure has highlighted the importance of managing work-related health risks.
The company manufactures mineral pellets for cattle. A hammer mill, a pelletiser, and mixing using a bobcat created a large amount of dust which put six workers at risk o exposure.
“WorkSafe recognizes that work can affect health and health can affect work, and a business has an important role to protect workers’ mental and physical health,” says WorkSafe Principal Advisor Systems Strategies, Sue Cotton.
Data from a 2017 investigation revealed that of the materials used to make the pellets, 85 percent were a substance hazardous to health and 64% of those were toxic substances.
“People were clearly being harmed. The message for businesses is they must ensure they manage health risks. They also need to ensure those paid to advise on health risks are competent,” said Ms. Cotton.
The investigation also found that the company lacked health risk management systems and identified substantial failures to manage worker exposure to hazardous substances.
The company pleaded guilty and was sentenced and fined $70,000 last year. They were also ordered to pay a total of $5000 in emotional harm payments to three of the exposed workers.