Kaikōura boss fined after teen blinded in one eye

Source: 1News

A Kaikōura man must pay $22,500 after neglecting to notify WorkSafe of a workplace incident which saw a teen employee lose sight in his right eye, and failed to provide appropriate PPE.

Barbed wire fence (file image)

The 17-year-old worker was chiselling when a piece of metal flew into his right eye in March 2020. Despite multiple surgeries, he lost sight in the eye.

His employer, Daniel Anderson, an agricultural fencing sole trader, didn’t notify WorkSafe of the injury, as required by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Several months later the victim’s mother did, which triggered an investigation.

Anderson later confirmed to WorksSafe that he had not provided full instruction to his worker about personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety glasses, because in his words “it was common sense".

When a WorkSafe inspector asked Anderson whether he told workers to use protective gear, his response was: “I’m not their mother and going to dress them every morning".

He also indicated to WorkSafe he felt it was too expensive to buy PPE, saying: “I’m too small for that sort of… carry on”.

Hayden Mander, WorkSafe’s national manager of investigations, said the employer’s comments reflect an outdated, unacceptable, and cavalier attitude.

“A young man at the start of his working life now has seriously impaired vision. It’s astounding for an employer to not understand the seriousness of the situation."

Mander said the worker should have been provided with appropriate PPE, including eye protection, and required to wear it when using a chisel and hammer or any other job where there was a risk of an eye injury.

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

Anderson was sentenced at Kaikōura District Court on 15 July 2022 and ordered $22,500 be paid for emotional harm and consequential loss.