Tauranga mussel processing plant ordered to pay nearly $280k after worker loses eye

A Tauranga mussel processing plant has been ordered to pay nearly $280,000 after a worker had to have his eye removed after an incident involving a corrosive cleaning product.

In a statement Worksafe says North Island Mussels Limited was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court today following the January 2017 incident which left their worker with life changing injuries.

The incident saw the worker decanting a cleaning product as a piece of tubing flicked him in the eye. The impact caused so much damage that the eye had to be removed, while the damage inflicted was so significant that fitting a prosthetic became impossible.

As a result, North Island Mussels Limited have been sentenced with a fine of $219,375, and ordered to pay $60,000 in reparation.

An investigation found that the cleaning product in question should not have been made available to be handled, instead should have been hardwired and plumbed for use.

"Protective equipment should not be the go to safety solution for using hazardous substances. If there is a smarter and safer way of doing a job, and it is reasonably practicable for it to be implemented then that is the expectation of the Health and Safety at Work Act" said WorkSafe's Deputy General Manager for Operations and Specialist Services Simon Humphries.

Seafood processing plant staff checking weight of mussels in small plastic container before packing
Mussel factory (file picture). Source: istock.com

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