A piping firm has been fined over a fatal pipeline explosion in Onehunga, Auckland. The June 2011 blast killed one worker and left another a double amputee.
Canadian Pacific Ltd was today sentenced to pay $55,250 after being found guilty of failing to take all practicable steps to protect employees and failing to take all practicable steps to protect others. Mother-of-two Philomen Gulland lost her life in the explosion.
Gulland was working for Watercare Services, which contracted Canadian Pacific to conduct the work on the water main. Her colleague, Ian Winson, lost both his legs in the explosion. Another five workers suffered fractures, head injuries, cuts, puncture wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder from the explosion.
Watercare Services was last year fined $81,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $315,000 over the same incident.
Judge Robert Ronayne said it was not possible to say with absolute certainty what caused the explosion.
But he found that Canadian Pacific failed to identify the hazard of explosive gas. It did not conduct atmosphere testing or monitoring either prior to, or during, work such as welding.
Welding by Canadian Pacific employees in a chamber attached to the water pipe ignited the gas and caused an explosion, which vented along the pipe to the victims.
WorkSafe’s investigations general manager Brett Murray said Canadian Pacific had a duty to seek out and monitor those hazards.
“The company should have known of the potential risk and carried out proper atmosphere testing before and during the work,” he said.
“It should have identified the potential hazard of explosive gas and planned to deal with it appropriately.”
The explosion was a tragic reminder of the risk of working in areas where there was a potentially explosive atmosphere, and the importance of proper monitoring and planning, Murray said.
– © Fairfax NZ News