Nelson panel beaters fined $15,000 for unsafe practices

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A Nelson-based panel beating and spray painting business has been fined $15,000 after breaching a WorkSafe prohibition notice on three occasions.

On 14 March 2014 WorkSafe health and safety inspectors visited L & L Marriott Holdings Limited’s premises and saw spray painting in a workshop area with no extraction system. There were unsafe lights and electrical sources in the same area as the spray painting, creating a risk of explosion. The spray painter was wearing a half mask respirator, which is unsuitable for spray painting with isocyanates, and another employee was walking around the workshop area with no personal protective clothing or respiratory equipment on when paint fumes were clearly visible.

L&L Marriott Holdings was issued a prohibition notice stopping all spray painting until a compliant spray booth was installed. A properly constructed booth with adequate extraction and air-fed respiratory equipment protects workers from exposure to paint fumes emanating from the use of solvents and isocyanates which are extremely harmful to health.

This notice was breached on three occasions throughout 2014, putting the employees at significant risk.

WorkSafe southern chief inspector, Karen Davidson, says many workers suffer ill health and premature death from workplace exposure to chemicals and isocyanate-based paints like those used by L&L Marriott Holdings Limited.

“Poor management of hazardous substances is a significant contributor to the estimated 600-900 New Zealanders who die every year from work-related ill health. Occupational health and the collision repair industry is an area of focus for WorkSafe.”

She says protecting people at work is not just about reducing the risk of incidents. It’s also about ensuring the long-term health effects of exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace are well managed.

“Prohibition notices are there for a reason – to keep workers safe.”

L&L Marriott Holding Limited was sentenced last week in the Nelson District Court

Notes:

– Solvent vapours are particularly dangerous to people who use them regularly. Breathing in such fumes can result in solvent neurotoxicity which causes short-term effects similar to feeling drunk or high including headaches, dizziness and nausea.

– Long-term effects can include memory loss, fertility problems, loss of concentration and moodiness.
Isocyanates are sensitizers that can lead to chronic asthma and respiratory problems.