This accident made its way into the top 10 NZ environmental disasters
In 1984 an employee at a factory swept up a chlorine spillage into a pile which came into contact with oil spilt from a forklift. This resulted in a chemical reaction that caused a massive fire which engulfed the entire factory, killing one person. Toxic fumes spread across the suburbs while run-off killed aquatic life in the nearby estuary. Many of the 100 firefighters attending the scene suffered long-term health effects. After an enquiry, better chemical handling methods were developed.
The four main causes of accidents are;
• Human error.
• Improper training.
• Manufacturing defects.
• Improper maintenance.
The Health & Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 was developed as a result of these accidents and many more. Whilst at first glance the regulations look daunting (over 500 pages), once a workable system is in place it will cease to become so. In fact, I will even go on to say that the extra effort spent on managing hazardous substances on the farm will ultimately result in farmers making better decisions on what and how much chemicals they use and maybe research the use of alternative substances that are less harmful for themselves and the environment.