Last week the Wellington District Court issued a not guilty verdict to a charge of recklessness against Waste Management following the tragic and avoidable death of one of our team, James Gideon, at Technical Services in Wellington in August 2017.

Evan Maehl, our Managing Director, has sent the following email to all the Waste Management team.

I am writing to inform you about the outcome of a WorkSafe prosecution of Waste Management following the tragic and avoidable death of one of our team, James Gideon, at Technical Services in Wellington in August 2017.

Jim had been a valued Waste Management employee for nine years and was working at our Technical Services site when he was overcome by hydrogen sulphide gas emitted at a treatment pit he was working at.

As we have previously expressed to the people most closely affected, we were shocked by his death. We deeply regret the loss of Jim and unreservedly apologise for the pain caused to his family and loved ones. Our thoughts continue to be with them.

In August 2018, WorkSafe charged Waste Management under Sections 48 and 36 of the Health & Safety at Work Act for failing to comply with health and safety duties. Two months later, Waste Management made an early guilty plea. Sentencing for this guilty plea should take place before the end of the year. In pleading guilty, we acknowledged that we failed in several important respects.

Waste Management defended a charge of recklessness under Section 47 of the Health & Safety at Work Act in respect of the same incident, on the basis that we would never knowingly place one of our people in harm’s way.  In a verdict issued last week, Judge Hastings confirmed that Waste Management is not guilty of recklessness.

As some of you may be aware, we have since had all our operating procedures and systems independently reviewed and a detailed and wide-ranging corrective plan was implemented in full by 2018. This included a new safety approach with an increased focus on process safety, management of change and a new 6x6 risk matrix for our Technical Services division.

In closing I want to reinforce that this incident is a serious and tragic reminder to us all to follow our safety systems and remain vigilant of the dangers we face as a team in providing essential services to New Zealand. I, and the EMT, exhort you all to always put safety as your first priority, every day.