Auckland International Airport apologises for employee's hand injury

Enforceable Undertaking enforced by WorkSafe following incident

Auckland International Airport apologises for employee's hand injury

The Auckland International Airport has issued an apology after one of its wildlife rangers suffered serious hand injuries while clearing geese from the airport runway.

Chloe Surridge, chief operations officer at Auckland Airport, said the organisation takes ownership for the events.

“We are deeply sorry for the impact this incident has had on the health and wellbeing of our team member and their family,” Surridge said in a statement.

In November 2021, a staff member with the airport’s wildlife team fired a cartridge from a pyrotechnic launcher in a bid to clear the runway from geese.

Upon firing, however, the victim sustained serious harm, including laceration to their right-hand palm and loss of two fingertips on their right hand.

Lack of training

WorkSafe, New Zealand’s workplace health and safety regulator, blamed the incident on the lack of training the wildlife ranger received when it comes to using the launcher and handling the cartridges.

Catalijne Pile, WorkSafe’s national manager investigations, described as “concerning” the way training was carried out.

“Training can be ‘watered down’ if it is simply passed on by person to person and not directly linked back to what the best practice states and the law requires,” Pille said in a statement.

The official said the incident underscores how organisations need to pay attention on keeping across training regimes.

“Passing down knowledge without having check-ins can mean gaps in information or that training is not aligned with best practice,” Pille said.

Enforceable Undertaking

Following the incident, the Auckland International Airport has entered an Enforceable Undertaking with WorkSafe.

According to the regulator, the agreement includes raising the health and safety standard at the airport, as well as the following:

  • Financial amends to the victim.
  • The implementation of a new suite of controls to greatly minimize risk to workers.
  • The development and implementation of a wildlife working group with key external stakeholders.
  • The development and implementation of a national wildlife hazards conference.
  • Funding to support organisations delivering mental health services in the South Auckland area.

“The process of the enforceable undertaking has not only created positive change across our own training and procedures, but will deliver long-lasting outcomes for health, safety and wellbeing at other airports and in our wider community,” Surridge said.

The Auckland Airport COO added that they also made “significant improvements” to ensure the safety of their wildlife rangers, including more specialised training, changes in operating procedures, and improvements in record keeping.

According to WorkSafe, it will monitor the airport’s compliance and progress on the terms of the Enforceable Undertaking.

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