A Nelson panel beating a spray painting business that failed to keep its staff safe in a potentially explosive workplace has been fined $15,000.
L&L Marriott Holdings Limited, which operates All Transport Refinishers in Tahunanui, was sentenced under the Health and Safety in Employment Act in the Nelson District Court on Thursday for breaching a prohibition notice three times last year.
Worksafe safety inspectors visited the business on March 14 last year and saw spray painting being done 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.
The company 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, Worksafe New Zealand said.
The prohibition notice was breached three times throughout the year, putting the employees at significant risk.
"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," WorkSafe chief inspector Karen Davidson said.
"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.
"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."
She said L&L Marriot Holdings Limited should have stopped spray painting as required by the prohibition notice, had a proper spray booth installed, and provided employees with personal protective clothing and respiratory equipment.
"Prohibition notices are there for a reason – to keep workers safe."
Company director Leslie Marriott said he had since installed the spray booth and "it's all compliant now".
He declined to comment further, saying he would have to speak with his lawyer first.
"At the end of the day I can't really say anything about it," he said.
"It's all done. The case is closed."