May 24, 2021 | Barb Carr

Worker Killed by Inhalation of Solvent Fumes

Worker Killed

A worker laying carpet for a New Zealand flooring company was overcome with solvent fumes and died. A WorkSafe investigations manager issued a statement saying “the company largely relied on the experience of its workers to protect themselves from the effects of the adhesive.” Even though the worker killed had 17 years of experience, the company was fined $60,000 for “failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers” as well as $105,000 “in reparations to the victim’s family.” (Read full article in New Zealand Herald.)

Relying on Workers to Protect Themselves from Known Workplace Hazards is Unacceptable

Employers have a responsibility to provide safe workplaces. In the US, Federal law entitles a worker to one. So, employers are tasked with ensuring the workplace is free of known health and safety hazards. This tragedy may have been avoided if a risk assessment had been performed, if training and instruction for this particular job had been issued to the worker in spite of his perceived experience, if proper ventilation was available. It’s seldom one problem (and often multiple safeguards that fail) that lead to an injury or a worker killed.

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