Kinleith Mill safety concern
Oji Fibre Solutions has delayed scheduled maintenance at the Kinleith Mill because of health and safety concerns.
A rash of health and safety incidents at the Tokoroa mill has sparked six Worksafe investigations this year, already twice that of 2016.
Oji Fibre Solutions, which bought the mill in 2014, has delayed the second annual maintenance programme, initially scheduled for September, to ensure work is completed safely.
During the last plant shutdown for maintenance in May, 11 major health and safety incidents were reported to Worksafe - over half the 20 incidents reported throughout 2016.
Incidents investigated included a hydrochloric acid leak and a deep puncture wound to the back of a worker’s leg.
The spike came a month after maintenance contracts were separated and tendered to outside contractors, but Oji said there was no link.
Oji Fibre Solutions chief executive Jon Ryder said the high May spike was a result of the onsite workforce growing from 450 to 2000 during the 10-day maintenance shutdown.
He said many of the new maintenance contractors were working for the prior contractor, Quant, and staffing numbers had dropped from four to three workers per shift.
The new arrangement was safer and ensured a more ‘‘reliable, profitable, and sustainable business’’, he said.
Worksafe issued a improvement notice in June, saying the system for the control of maintenance workers was likely in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
‘‘The current system ... does not ensure workers are fully aware of the hazards involved with the work required,’’ the notice said.
This has since been addressed, Ryder said.
The company is working towards a April 2018 deadline to comply with the new Major Hazard Facilities Regulations.
Ryder was confident the deadline would be met. ‘‘We are taking this very seriously,’’ he said.
Worksafe high hazards and safety general manager Wayne Vernon said he had received assurances from Oji management and inspectors were seeing real changes at the mill.