05:56 pm, Thursday 29 July, 2010
A drilling firm has pleaded guilty in the industrial court yesterday over a work-related death in its gas rig in Moomba.
The company pleaded guilty to failing to maintain a safe work environment and failure to appoint a responsible officer to ensure the company met safety obligations.
In January 2008, a 36-year-old drilling assistant from Queensland died after being pinned by equipment.
The court was told manual tongs were being clamped onto a drilling pipe when the structure moved towards the man.
According to prosecutor Brad McCloud, hydraulic tongs should have been used for the job. He said the work should not have been performed in the confined space on the drilling deck when they were being tightened.
The court heard the workers were pressed for time, so they decided to use manual tongs to save them about 30 minutes.
The court was told by the defendant’s lawyer that the company accepted its wrongdoing and would ensure the incident will never happen again. The court heard a $100,000 trust fund was set up by the drilling firm for the worker’s partner and children.
The workplace fatality was the first since tougher penalties were introduced at the start of 2008. The change in regulations has tripled the maximum fine for each charge to $300,000.
The court is expected to deliver a penalty in September.