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August 2020 Newsletter - text only version

2020-08-13 08:33 | Anonymous

Newsletter August 2020

Greetings NZSSE members!

I hope that the pandemic, lockdown, and current increase in the alert levels have not been too difficult for you and your families, and that you all still have enough work to keep you busy. If you're anything like me, you'll be looking forward to the end of 2020, it's been quite the annus horribilis. Remember a few months ago when Australia was on fire and NZ was covered in a pall of smoke, and that seemed like it was as bad as things could get?

On the plus side, we've been lucky enough to live in a small country with closable borders, with a population that by and large acted responsibly in response to government guidance. There's a bit of a hiccup right at the moment, but things could be a lot worse. For those of you with family overseas, I hope they're able to keep safe. 

Personally, I've found the response to Covid-19 across NZ to be a pretty good example of how we as a country approach health and safety. Overall the country applied a "hierarchy of controls" approach, starting with eliminating hazards (by keeping people at home and separated), moving through isolating hazards (the ubiquitous perspex screens at supermarket checkouts) and further on down to procedural controls (like hand sanitiser at the entrance to a business).

And, as always, there were PCBUs that started at the bottom of the hierarchy and called it done - put some hand sanitiser at the door and say "she'll be right." And so our mission to promote robust health and safety practices continues!

The last few months have been fairly quiet for the NZSSE - I'll put my hand up and say that was my fault, I've been somewhat preoccupied. Things are moving forward again now, as we kick off a series of webinars to give us all some good professional development opportunities through to the end of the year.

In this newsletter you'll find details of a case study being delivered by Dirk Pons, on an aviation incident, which I am very much looking forward to. In the next week or so, look out for details from us of the next few installments of the series, covering topics ranging from H&S by Design, enforceable undertakings, duty holder reviews by Worksafe, Safety I vs. Safety II, updates to the H&S regulations currently working their way through MBIE, occupational health considerations in design, and more.

If any of you are sitting on a good story, a good case study, or a subject dear to your heart, and would like to present a webinar to the rest of the members, please let me know. The more the merrier, the committee would like to make this the start of an ongoing and continuous series of events.

See you all at Dirk's seminar.


The Pitfalls with Self Certified CE marking – Warren Wagener TEG Risk

We recently investigated a three year old machine, manufactured in Italy which according to the manufacturers manual is CE marked and compliant with the Machinery Directive, Low Voltage Directive and the EMC Directive.

This style of machine has a Type C Standard that lists the hazards and safety control measures to allow for safe operation. The standard has been available since 1998.

Upon assessment of the machine it became quite evident that the Type C standard had not been followed. We approached the manufacturer for comment regarding this. They provided a statement that basically said that they did not apply the Type C standard to their machine. The basis for this statement was that the style of operation of the machine differed enough from the machines listed in the standard and this allowed them to perform a risk assessment and apply control measure that do not align with the Type C standard.

The machine has a rotating drum with scraping blades attached, weighing 1.5 tonne and spinning at a speed of at a guess around 1500rpm used to scrape excess material from the primary material. Under the Type C standard the control measure was to provide a synchronised guard that covers the drum while the machine is open for product infeed. This guard was not fitted and the control measures were inadequate (non interlocked and non fixed, removable rubber guard fitted by manufacturer). The client has had an incident in the infeed area that fortunately only resulted in deep cuts to a finger and concluded that a lack of guarding was the root cause of the injury.

We requested further information from the technical file of the manufacturer, specifically around the reasoning and risk assessment processes.

The documentation we were provided with reinforced our initial conclusions that the machine needed to be treated under the Type C Standard. This was supported by the diagrams given in the documents of the machine they had used as the ‘template’ to support their conclusions around risk assessments and hence control measures. The diagrams do not match the machine they have supplied!

Further to this the Type C standard had a required Performance Level of PLd indicating risks in the infeed areas are deemed to be high. This did not align with the manufacturers risk assessment where they scored the initial risk as medium and applied limited control measures to make the residual risk assessed as low.

Where does that leave the client?

It leaves the client with a dangerous machine that requires an extensive upgrade.

Can they take the manufacturer to task?

Yes but it will be a lengthy and costly exercise, requiring representation in Europe either on behalf or in person and chances of success may be low. As of 5 years ago no countries that were external to the EU have had a successful challenge under the machinery directive.


Reliance upon the CE marking as being an adequate means to prove compliance provides limited coverage with the requirements under the HSWA act.

Due diligence is required when importing/purchasing machines from the EU with a CE marking and even more so with items not originating from the EU. Risk assessments and adequate risk reduction controls are required for compliance with HSWA. 

CE Marking is not a ’free pass’ for the manufacturer to export outside of the EU even when the machine is mostly compliant.

Recent Worksafe Prosecutions.

·         A pet food manufacturer in Te Puke has been fined $132,000 after one of its workers suffered burns so serious she had to have the tips of three of her fingers amputated.

Addiction Food NZ Limited appeared in the Tauranga District Court on Wednesday after a WorkSafe investigation found the machine the company used to pack pet food with was not properly guarded.

·         WorkSafe has filed charges following an investigation into a gas explosion in a house on Marble Court, Northwood, Christchurch in July last year.

Charges have been filed under the Gas Act 1992 against two defendants following the incident in which a gas explosion caused serious harm to several individuals, destroyed a house and caused significant damage to several other properties in the neighbourhood. 

·         Failures at a meat processing plant led to a worker suffering severe burns to almost his entire body, says WorkSafe.

Affco New Zealand Limited were fined $230,000 and ordered to pay $65,000 for failing to keep the worker safe at its Moerewa plant.

In July 2018 the worker was tending to the furnace of a boiler. The worker opened the boiler door and a build-up of coal combusted and sent heat and flames out and into the room.

·         A Wellington business which continued to operate unguarded machinery resulting in serious hand injuries to a worker has been fined $260,000.

In a Judge’s decision released last week, food manufacturer Oriental Cuisine Limited was ordered to pay reparation of more than $40,000 after a worker’s hand was drawn into a machine used to make pastry in July 2018.The worker suffered fractures and the complete degloving of his middle and index finger on his left hand. He also received lacerations injuries to his thumb and ring fingers.

Insights into how we work

Every safety engineer knows that seemingly small mistakes or temporary lapses in judgment can have serious consequences.

Young professionals can be especially prone to error because we lack industrial experience, yet want to prove ourselves professionally. Many of us enter the workplace with a sense of infallibility, secure that our college education has endowed us with the ability to think quickly and rationally, and jump into any team, plant, or project. Eventually we learn that maintaining a sense of vulnerability is key to avoiding process safety incidents.

For some of us, the opposite is true — we believe that, as rookies, we don’t have the prerogative to speak up if we feel that something is unsafe. Overcoming our fear of confrontation and learning how to identify and speak up about unsafe practices or conditions will not only make us better engineers, it may save lives.

Find yourself a mentor and take advantage of their experience to enhance your own.

COVID-19 has also altered the way some of us work with more engineers working remotely and from home. The upside of this is that a lot of businesses are becoming more comfortable with virtual meetings and social distancing techniques. The downside is a lack of social contact.

If you find yourself wandering from your chosen path and require a reset, do not hesitate to reach out to one of your fellow members.

We are very fortunate to be one of the few countries currently running as near to normal as we can be. Be proud of what NZ has achieved as a country to put ourselves in this position. Make the most of the opportunities presented by the changes that some of us are experiencing. Learn from the lessons that working under COVID has taught us.

Robots and COVID-19

Article referenced from

Roboticists at Texas A&M University and the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue examined over 120 press and social media reports from China, the U.S. and 19 other countries about how robots are being used during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that ground and aerial robots are playing a notable role in almost every aspect of managing the crisis.

In hospitals, doctors and nursesfamily members and even receptionists are using robots to interact in real time with patients from a safe distance. Specialized robots are disinfecting rooms and delivering meals or prescriptions, handling the hidden extra work associated with a surge in patients. Delivery robots are transporting infectious samples to laboratories for testing.

Outside of hospitals, public works and public safety departments are using robots to spray disinfectant throughout public spaces. Drones are providing thermal imagery to help identify infected citizens and enforce quarantines and social distancing restrictions. Robots are even rolling through crowds, broadcasting public service messages about the virus and social distancing.

At work and home, robots are assisting in surprising ways. Realtors are teleoperating robots to show properties from the safety of their own homes. Workers building a new hospital in China were able work through the night because drones carried lighting. In Japan, students used robots to walk the stage for graduation, and in Cyprus, a person used a drone to walk his dog without violating stay-at-home restrictions.

Helping workers, not replacing them

Every disaster is different, but the experience of using robots for the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to finally learn three lessons documented over the past 20 years. One important lesson is that during a disaster robots do not replace people. They either perform tasks that a person could not do or do safely, or take on tasks that free up responders to handle the increased workload.

The majority of robots being used in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients have not replaced health care professionals. These robots are teleoperated, enabling the health care workers to apply their expertise and compassion to sick and isolated patients remotely.

A small number of robots are autonomous, such as the popular UVD decontamination robots and meal and prescription carts. But the reports indicate that the robots are not displacing workers. Instead, the robots are helping the existing hospital staff cope with the surge in infectious patients. The decontamination robots disinfect better and faster than human cleaners, while the carts reduce the amount of time and personal protective equipment nurses and aides must spend on ancillary tasks.

Don’t stockpile robots

The broad use of robots for COVID-19 is a strong indication that the health care system needed more robots, just like it needed more of everyday items such as personal protective equipment and ventilators. But while storing caches of hospital supplies makes sense, storing a cache of specialized robots for use in a future emergency does not.

This was the strategy of the nuclear power industry, and it failed during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. The robots stored by the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency for an emergency were outdated, and the operators were rusty or no longer employed. Instead, the Tokyo Electric Power Company lost valuable time acquiring and deploying commercial off-the-shelf bomb squad robots, which were in routine use throughout the world. While the commercial robots were not perfect for dealing with a radiological emergency, they were good enough and cheap enough for dozens of robots to be used throughout the facility.


Yak vs Cherry Picker

This presentation is about the human factors involved in an aviation accident in NZ between a Yak and a cherry picker.

I will identify the typical types of human error, contextualise these to the accident, and illustrate how such accidents can be represented in the barrier bowtie method.

Human factors are the things that go wrong in the interactions between a team of people and a system of technology. This is part of a broader transdisciplinary field called engineering psychology, which as the name suggests, draws from both engineering and psychology.  Many, if not most, catastrophic accidents involve a socio-technical interaction, i.e. are not solely due to technology failure. Hence there is a need to consider human factors in the development or deployment of any technical system.

The content of the presentation is primarily directed to industry practitioners interested in better health and safety outcomes, e.g. in plant operations or construction management. Those involved in event management may also find the content useful for their work. Prospective postgraduate students may also find inspiration for future research topics. The content is suitable for a general audience and does not require any deep understanding of engineering, psychology, aviation, yaks, or cherries.

Date Friday, 21 August 2020 12:00 PM-1:00 PM

Zoom Meeting ID: 947 2466 4082
Passcode: BOWTIE

Regards - Ngā mihi


Dr Dirk Pons

PhD (Eng), MScMedicine, M.Leadership, BScEng(Mech), Fellow Engineering NZ (IPENZ), Tohunga Wetepanga, Chrtrd. Prof. Eng (CPEng, NZ), International Professional Engineer (Int. PE. EngNZ)

Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering

University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8020, New Zealand

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