WorkSafe’s earthquake advice for employers

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Health and safety regulator WorkSafe is urging employers to be vigilant after today’s early-morning earthquake may have left many workplaces damaged or unstable.

“Safety of you and your work colleagues must be the number one priority if you’re heading to work … in the affected areas,” said chief executive Gordon MacDonald.

“There have been reports of damage to buildings, so please exercise caution when entering buildings as the last thing any of us want is an injury because a few simple checks haven’t been undertaken.”

The 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck in the upper South Island just after midnight, triggering hundreds of aftershocks across the country.

Wellington CBD – along with many other workplaces – remain closed this morning as checks are carried out and MacDonald said employers should seek expert opinion if they think their premises may have been damaged.

“Make a careful external visual inspection of your work premises. If you see cracks or have the slightest doubt about the integrity of the building, get an expert report before you go in,” he said.

“If you decide it’s safe to enter be extra vigilant as the contents of the building may have shifted; material may have fallen; there could be hazards you would not normally expect like spilled liquids or damaged racking for stored goods.”

MacDonald also warned that certain employers would have to take added precautions, depending on the nature of their business.

“If you know there are chemicals or other dangerous material in your workplace, make sure you’re protected with good safety gear and be very careful when you first go in,” he said.

“Stop – look – assess – and don’t take any risks. There are professionals who can help you make your workplace safe”

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