The Green Party is calling for Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse to direct WorkSafe to immediately investigate problems at Pan Pac Forest Products’ Hawkes’ Bay mill, following a spate of illnesses attributed to fumes from the mill’s kiln.
“WorkSafe needs to get in there immediately and sort this out, not stand on the sidelines and wait for mill operator Pan Pac to do its own investigation,” Green Party toxics spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.
Pan Pac workers are now striking, claiming that toxic fumes are making their workplace dangerous. One person working at the mill has reportedly been hospitalised and there are and reports that local residents are suffering serious health issues because of fumes from the mill’s kiln.
“No one should be forced to work in a dangerous workplace while WorkSafe waits around for the mill bosses to do their own investigation.
“When workers are striking out of fear their work place is too dangerous, the Government needs to step in to ensure WorkSafe is doing its job – actually making workplaces safe.
“I’ve heard from people in Hawke’s Bay that the toxic kiln has been a problem since it was installed in 2014, and it’s been a real struggle to get anyone from WorkSafe or the regional council to take the problem seriously.
“If the kiln isn’t safe, it shouldn’t be operating.
“I want to applaud the workers for taking action to support their colleagues and local residents in their community, who say they’re suffering from exposure to potentially toxic fumes produced by the kiln,” said Ms Delahunty.