WorkSafe inspectors to enter Gloriavale

Gloriavale Christian Community. Photo: File
Gloriavale Christian Community. Photo: File
WorkSafe inspectors will enter notorious Christian community Gloriavale early next week after reports of 23-hour work shifts for members and threats by church leaders.

This will be the second week in a row WorkSafe inspectors have visited the church site in Haupiri on the West Coast.

On Tuesday, inspectors visited Gloriavale after information received via the WorkSafe response centre that a worker cleaning a silo was overcome with fumes in July.

On Wednesday, a 20-year-old man appeared in the Greymouth District Court facing sex charges related to offending at Gloriavale.

The new inspection early next week will attempt to gauge what risks there are around fatigue and wellbeing for those doing volunteer work within the isolated community.

The visit comes in response to a Newshub story on Thursday which reported two members of the community had complained of extreme work hours and intimidation by the church's leader "Shepherds".

"In light of these concerns WorkSafe will be undertaking a proactive assessment of any area of the Gloriavale community considered to be a workplace early next week," a Worksafe spokesperson said.

"This includes the risks associated with fatigue and wellbeing. It will also involve requests for relevant documentation and speaking to volunteer workers and/or contractors."

Gloriavale has responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 for members who can be considered volunteer workers.

It is not clear what form of work was being performed by the two members who made the complaints.

One of the Gloriavale members told Newshub this week: "You could work up to 20 to 23 hours. Sometimes you could go two whole days and you get some sleep but then you're expected to go straight back to work straight away because it's expected."

A Worksafe spokesperson stressed the site visit was not an investigation, and its recent visit on September 22 also did not meet WorkSafe's investigation criteria.

The September 22 WorkSafe "proactive assessment" visit focused on health and safety systems, work specific processes, procedures and documentation.

"The inspector also discussed WEPR (worker engagement, participation and representation), contractor management, training, emergency response and critical risks while on site," a WorkSafe spokesperson said.

"Machine guarding improvements were identified and discussed, and verbal direction given that these improvements be implemented."

Comments

Well, 'Christian'. The jury's out.

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