Kin­leith Mill safety con­cern

South Waikato News - - Out & About - THOMAS MANCH

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.

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