‘I’m not their mother’: Employer’s words after teenager blinded in workplace accident

Despite multiple surgeries, a 17-year-old worker lost sight in his right eye after a workplace incident in Kaikōura.  (File photo)

John Bisset / Stuff

Despite multiple surgeries, a 17-year-old worker lost sight in his right eye after a workplace incident in Kaikōura. (File photo)

A Kaikōura employer was ordered to pay $22,500 after failing to provide proper protection to a teenage worker who lost sight in one eye and failed to report the accident.

Daniel Anderson’s response to WorkSafe on whether he told workers to use protective gear was, “I’m not their mother and I go and get them dressed every morning.”

A 17-year-old working for Anderson, an independent farm fencing trader, was chiseling when a piece of metal flew into his right eye in March 2020. The teenager lost sight in his eye despite multiple surgical interventions.

An investigation was launched several months later when the teenager’s mother contacted WorkSafe after Anderson failed to do so – despite it being a requirement under the 2015 Health Act. occupational health and safety.

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Anderson confirmed that he did not provide full instructions on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety glasses, because “it was common sense”, he said. declared.

He also said his business was “too small” to pay for the PPE, which he felt was too expensive.

WorkSafe’s national director of investigations, Hayden Mander, said Anderson’s comments were outdated, unacceptable and cavalier. It was “astonishing” that he did not understand the gravity of the situation, he said.

“A young man at the start of his working life now has severely impaired vision.”

Mander said the cost of health and safety was part of doing business and the worker should have been given proper PPE and required to wear it.

Workers vulnerable due to age, inexperience or employment conditions may be less likely to question health and safety practices or speak up if they are unsure, said WorkSafe.

“Beyond the obvious health and safety shortcomings in this case, it is both illegal and morally wrong for an employer of any size not to inform WorkSafe of an incident such as this,” said Order.

“No employer is exempt.”

Anderson was sentenced in Kaikōura District Court on July 15. Judge Raoul Neave ordered him to pay $22,500 for emotional harm and consequential loss because he had no insurance and was unable to pay a fine.