A West Coast flooring company has been ordered to pay over $160,000 following the death of one of its workers.
Coastwide Flooring Limited were fined $60,000 for failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers, and ordered to pay reparations of $105,000 to the victim's family.
The maximum penalty Greymouth District Court could have imposed on Coastwide Flooring was $1.5 million.
The incident occurred in March 2019, when an employee of Coastwide Flooring was installing carpet in a Greymouth building using a strong organic solvent-based adhesive.
The man was found unresponsive by a co-worker and died three days later in Christchurch Hospital's intensive care unit.
Steve Kelly, WorkSafe's Investigations Manager for the South Island, said the company had a lax approach to health and safety.
"The particular adhesive the worker was using was known to be a health hazard, but the company had not undertaken a risk assessment on its use; it had no safe system of work for working with the adhesive – particularly in relation to ventilation and the use of fans; and nor did it provide effective information, training and instruction for workers."
Despite the worker having 17 years experience in the industry, Kelly said it was Coastwide Flooring's responsibility to ensure safe working conditions for its staff.
"The company largely relied on the experience of its workers to protect themselves from the effects of the adhesive, and that approach was simply unacceptable."
Kelly said since the tragic incident, Coastwide Flooring had implemented a suite of improvements to its operations.
"But for this worker, that is too little too late."
Coastwide Flooring was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
The incident has drawn a strong warning from WorkSafe New Zealand to businesses not to rely on the experience of workers in the absence of proper risk identification and management.