New Zealand Law Society - Hazardous substances employee sentenced on forgery charges

Hazardous substances employee sentenced on forgery charges

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A worker who dealt with the storage and distribution of hazardous substances has been convicted at the Manukau District Court on forgery charges and sentenced to 10 months home detention, Worksafe says.

Deepak Yogesh Lal was working for New Zealand Chemical Care and Storage Limited (NZCCSL) at the time of the offending, who had arranged training in the use of hazardous substances. After failing aspects of the training in 2017, Lal forged certificates to deceive his employer into believing him qualified and competent.

Lal pleaded guilty to two charges and was convicted under the Crimes Act 1961 for using forged documents. During a WorkSafe investigation Lal admitted to altering two certificates from other employees at NZCCSL and presenting them to his employer as his own qualifications.

Regulations state work requiring handling of hazardous substances must be carried out by a person holding a compliance certificate as a certified handler.

General Manager for High Hazards and Energy Safety Tony Hetherington said Lal faced serious consequences for his extremely serious offending.

“Instead of completing the qualification, Lal went to great lengths to forge certificates and convince his employer he had completed his training. This was deliberate and sustained behaviour, not a one off oversight," he says.

“The certification process is important because handling the chemicals covered by the requirements presents significant risks to the handler, people working nearby and potentially others who may have to respond in an emergency.

“The certification process is part of ensuring these risks are properly managed, so people such as Lal who try to side step the requirements are putting themselves and others at risk," Mr Hetherington says.

“They also undermine the efforts their employers are making to ensure the risks are properly controlled and the business as a whole is properly managing risks,” he says.