Samoa Ministry Investigating Employee’s Severe Burns

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Man allegedly injured while disposing of uniforms at landfill

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, April 18, 2013) – The health and safety of workers is important at Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), according Chief Executive Officer, Taule’ale’ausumai La’avasa Malua.

That’s why it is conducting an internal investigation into an incident where an employee was "burnt on the job" two weeks ago.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer yesterday, Taule’ale’a said they are investigating why the rubbish was burnt at the landfill and what else occurred there.

He said it was dangerous to burn things close to the landfill as it might end up spreading.

"There is not supposed to be any burning at the landfill," he said. "There is an incinerator at the MOH (Ministry of Health) to burn things.

"We inform ministries that if its confidential papers and old money, they are to use the incinerator but for other things and sometimes uniforms, they are buried.

"There is usually a bin for ministries and another separate one for the public for those things, but usually we don’t burn things up at the landfill because it’s dangerous and it’s possible that the fire will spread.

"So I’m not sure how they ended up burning the uniforms when we have informed them of locations to send those to and we have informed businesses and ministries to contact the Health Department for the use of incinerator."

Two weeks ago, an employee of MNRE Kiuli Lemalu got burnt on the job.

He was told by his boss to "burn old police uniforms" but things went horribly wrong.

He ended up suffering from severe burns.

According to Taule’ale’a, there are safety measures and protection gear provided for employees.

The CEO emphasized that "we do protect our workers."

"They are given overalls, footwear and masks. All workers are treated the same but I haven’t yet received a final report on the matter as the internal investigation has not been completed."

Furthermore Taule’ale’a pointed out that every public servant pays for Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and he will be checking to see if the supervisor is working on getting assistance for the employee.

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