Note from Fluoride Action Network:
Molecular structure of highly toxic Sodium fluoroacetate (known as 1080). For more info, albeit outdated, click here
A pest control company’s worker ended up in an induced coma after he was poisoned in a factory housing chemicals that can be used to make the pesticide 1080.
The man was hospitalised for more than two weeks in May 2019 after being exposed to a poisonous substance at a unit in Bromley, Christchurch, leased by Pest Control Research.
According to court documents, released to Stuff on Monday, the company pleaded guilty to four of the six charges originally laid by WorkSafe. The other two charges were withdrawn.
The company admitted it failed to ensure a site plan was available for inspection at a location where hazardous substances, including 91 kilograms of ethanol and 400 litres of ethyl fluoroacetate, were kept.
Sodium hydroxide, ethyl fluroacetate and ethanol combine to make sodium fluoroacetate – or 1080.
Pest Control Research also failed to ensure the location had a current compliance certificate as required by health and safety regulations, and failed to ensure a current safety data sheet for the hazardous substances was readily accessible to any emergency service worker or anyone else likely to be exposed to the substance.
The company also pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety of workers by exposing them to a risk of death or serious illness from exposure to hazardous substances. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a $1.5 million fine.
The charging document details reasonable steps Pest Control Research should have taken to protect workers’ health and safety, including ensuring there were safe ventilation arrangements.
Pest Control Research previously said it was not manufacturing 1080 at the Bromley warehouse, but was storing the chemicals that could be used to make it.
Manufacturing 1080 is not permitted in New Zealand but some companies, including Pest Control Research, have permission to make cereal bait from imported 1080.
At the time of the incident, chief executive Matthew O’Brien? said the worker had been processing chemicals that were going to be delivered to its main office in Rolleston, near Christchurch.
A colleague rushed him to a medical centre before he was taken to Christchurch Hospital with serious injuries.
The injured worker has since fully recovered and returned to work.
Pest Control Research is scheduled to be sentenced in the Christchurch District Court next week.