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A worker has allegedly been caught on camera attempting to poison a co-worker’s lunch. This discovery has resulted in police investigating the deaths of 21 other workers at a metal fittings company in the northern town of Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock.

Video footage at the company showed the suspect, a 56-year-old male, spreading a powdery substance on the food. A small bottle of a similar substance was found in the suspect’s bag when he was arrested. Tests by the regional criminal office indicated the substance on the bread was toxic lead acetate, a highly toxic and nearly tasteless substance, and there was enough of it to cause severe organ damage, authorities said.

Fire brigade experts found mercury, lead and cadmium in the suspect’s apartment. Police said the man had “long tried to produce toxic substances, including heavy metal compounds” using substances in his home.

Authorities have now broadened the investigation after other cases of illness at the company in recent years emerged. Two employees are in a coma and another man is on dialysis. Officials have also launched a probe to re-examine all deaths connected to the company since 2000, particularly 21 former employees who died before retirement. Two other employees are in a coma and another man is on dialysis. Many of the deceased died of cancer or heart attacks, which could be caused by heavy metal poisoning.

While this is a shocking, bizarre and highly unusual situation to arise in a workplace, it should act as a reminder of your workplace risk management responsibilities and obligations. If you can imagine a situation, then it could actually happen in reality. And if it could happen, are you prepared? Do you have procedures in place? Each state and territory have workplace health and safety laws that require an employer to provide a safe workplace. If you haven’t considered these issues this year, block some time in the diary and consider your approach to workplace health and safety.

Author: Charles Watson, General Manager HR at Better HR


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