Mishap forces garden to add staff

Painter and decorator Eric Ross yesterday paints a metal safety railing which was added to this...
Painter and decorator Eric Ross yesterday paints a metal safety railing which was added to this low bridge at the Dunedin Chinese Garden last month. Photo by Craig Baxter.

An incident during which a child fell into a pool at the Dunedin Chinese Garden has sparked a full health and safety review, and the need to increase staffing is likely to add to financial pressures on the garden.

It was revealed yesterday that a child, aged about 5, fell into the water at the Dunedin City Council-owned Chinese Garden in January.

The child, who had been accompanied by a family member, was unhurt.

A Dunedin City Council health and safety officer had since reviewed health and safety arrangements, Toitu acting director Jennifer Evans told a Toitu Otago Settlers Museum Board meeting yesterday. The Toitu museum took over running the garden from July 1 last year.

A financial monitoring report tabled at yesterday's meeting said there would be ''Chinese Garden staffing budget impacts'' from the current health and safety requirement ''to have three staff and not two at all times''.

Jennifer Evans
Jennifer Evans
A statement of financial performance also tabled at the meeting showed that external operating revenue for the garden was $185,000 for the first 11 months of the financial year. This was $59,000 below the $244,000 budget for the period.

Ms Evans said the initial consent for the garden had required supervision of visitors, and the garden had at that stage been given an exemption from the general requirement to fence pools.

It was now a health and safety requirement for a third staff member to be on duty at the garden, Ms Evans said.

Prompt action had been taken, a third staff member was on duty and some safety railings were also installed, Ms Evans said.

At the meeting, some board members queried why an extra staff member was needed, and asked if volunteers could carry out the health and safety duties.

Ms Evans said the garden's health and safety obligations could not be fully met by volunteers, and an extra staff member was required.

The two main usual staff on duty were dealing with, respectively, ticketing and running the shop.

Garden management had always taken supervision requirements seriously, with volunteers helping and security staff employed when large functions were held.

Many visitors had been at the garden on the day of the accident and ''extra supervision'' had also been provided that day.

Since then, further safety measures had been taken and matters would be reviewed later.

''We take our health and safety very seriously,'' she said.

- john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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