NSW company fined after young workers overcome by fumes

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Photo: Activedia, Pixabay

A NSW Central Coast company has been fined $45,000 after two young workers were overcome by fumes.

The workers, aged 19 and 20, were cleaning the inside of a landing pontoon when the incident took place.

The pontoon was part of a naval ship undergoing restoration.

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said on Thursday that the two young men were asked to climb inside and use thinners in a space that was about 12 cubic metres.

“The workers had no specific training for working in confined spaces. They had no ventilation, and entered the pontoon with malfunctioning and inadequate protective equipment.

“Both men were vomiting and disorientated when they were found and they were quickly taken to hospital.

Both workers were lucky they made a full recovery, but the minister said things could have been worse.

“They should never have been placed in such working conditions without fully functioning respirators, mechanical ventilation or a person nearby to raise the alarm,” Mr. Kean said.

Mr. Kean said young workers should not be taken advantage of because of their age. He said employers should ensure young workers receive appropriate training and supervision to stay safe on the job.

“My number one priority is making sure that every worker who heads off to work in the morning, returns home safely to their family at night,” Mr. Kean said.

The company was penalised in the Sydney District Court for failing to protect the health and safety of the two workers.

The company has the right to lodge an appeal.

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