09:54 pm, Tuesday 31 July, 2012
An oil and gas company has been convicted for the second time over workplace health and safety charges.
WorkSafe VIC told the Sale Magistrates Court today that a leaking underground pipe in November 2009 prompted repairs. However, the pipes were not safely isolated and 650kg of highly combustible gas escaped.
The Court was told the team working on the repairs were given incorrect information when they were told that the pressure in the pipe was at a very low level when it was actually at high levels. When a valve was opened, a high-pressure gas caused a hose flail about and a worker suffered bruised ribs.
Magistrate Clive Alsop convicted and fined the company $40,000 after it pleaded guilty to failing to provide sufficient training or supervision to its employees in relation to the draining and depressurising of gas pipes.
WorkSafe’s acting General Manager for Health and Safety Operations, Jarrod Edwards, said greater level of risk control is required for major hazards facilities because of potential impact on the wider community.
“Those who operate major hazards facilities have the legal responsibility for safety on their sites and WorkSafe will take action to ensure appropriate systems are in place.
“WorkSafe’s expectation is that industry standards are not only maintained, but efforts are made to further reduce risks where possible.
“Maintenance must be kept up to date and safety procedures have to be monitored and tested to ensure incidents do not occur.”
Magistrate Alsop was informed technicians did not see a pressure transmitter located on the pipeline and instrument diagram. The company also failed to identify the person in charge of the workers undertaking the work; determine what type of gas in line to be drained or depressurised and whether breathing apparatus was necessary; and determine whether to secure the hose during the task and what equipment was needed.
The company was first prosecuted in 2001 after a gas explosion at Longford killed two men and injured eight in 1998. The incident reduced Victoria’s gas supplies for several weeks.