Management company fined over 2015 shopping centre explosion

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Photo: Mdesigns, Pixabay

A management company has been fined $45,000 for misuse of substation after two men died while two were severely injured in a 2015 explosion at a shopping centre in Morley, Western Australia.

The company, which manages the shopping centre was found guilty of failing to ensure safe access and egress for persons who were not its employees and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court late August.

High voltage switchgear filled with oil exploded in a substation at the area on February 2015, killing the workers and severely burning two others.

At the time of the incident, the company was the appointed manager of the centre and was responsible for taking adequate steps and precautions to make sure the establishment was safe for the public at large.

Firefighters who responded to the scene found a wooden bench in front of an exit door. This blocked exit door was the closest door to the switchgear that exploded.

“The substation in which this incident happened was effectively being used as a storeroom, containing a wooden bench and several wooden bins,” said WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh.

“The use of substations to store miscellaneous items was clearly a hazard, as they are inherently dangerous environments. Storing items within substations has the potential to increase the fire load in the room as well as impede egress in the event of an emergency.

“The company’s Operations Manager, who held the key to the substation and managed access to the room, had been provided several reports from high voltage electrical contractors prior to this incident that alerted the company that substations were being used for storage. No actions to stop the practice had been taken.

Mr. Kavanagh said that although it was not alleged that the company caused the deaths and injuries that resulted from the explosion, they failed to comply with their safety responsibilities.

“Other companies involved in the management of such venues should take note of this case and ensure that high voltage electrical substations that contain dangerous electrical equipment are not used as storerooms,” he said.

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