Salini Australia Pty Ltd fined $200,000 over injury at Forrestfield Airport Link Project

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A subcontractor on the Forrestfield Airport Link Project has been fined $200,000 (and ordered to pay $2847.50 in costs) over serious injuries suffered by a worker in July 2018.

Salini Australia Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in October to failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment and, by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee (maximum fine $400,000), and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court today.

On the afternoon of July 7, 2018, three Salini employees were engaged in connecting steel pipes in an underground tunnel near the Airport Central Station platform when there was a loud explosion.

A six-inch flexible rubber hose in the work area containing high pressure compressed air had detached from a steel pipe, resulting in unrestrained whiplash motion of the hose.

A member of the work crew was struck in the face by the whipping hose, causing him to be knocked unconscious and inflicting serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury, severe facial fractures and lacerations, a fractured right hand and an eye injury.

He initially underwent nine hours of surgery and was then placed in an induced coma for 11 days. He has since undergone extensive medical treatment and intervention including further facial surgeries, dental surgeries, plastic surgery, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said today the risks associated with hoses containing high pressure air had been identified by Salini and were documented in several areas, including the Safe Work Method Statement for the Tunnel Boring Machine.

“Salini’s documents stated that all high-pressure hoses were to be fitted with ‘whip-checks’ to avoid exactly what happened in this incident,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“Although a control measure to mitigate the risk had clearly been identified and documented, nobody at Salini directed this control measure to be implemented or checked whether it was in place.

“The company was convicted of a similar charge in October 2020 and fined $150,000 after a worker suffered major electrical burns when a crane either touched or came too close to high voltage power lines.

“In this latest case, Salini did not ensure that the control measures identified in its own safety documents were followed, failing to ensure that the six-inch rubber hose containing high pressure compressed air was appropriately secured.

“The tunnel workers who installed the unrestrained flexible rubber hose the night before this incident were not instructed to install whip-checks.

“Unfortunately I regularly see instances where a safe work method statement or job safety analysis has not been implemented as written, and the consequence is that a worker is seriously injured.

“It is important that workplaces develop safe work documentation, but it is even more important that they ensure the work is carried out in accordance with those procedures.

“Soon after this incident, whip-checks were installed on a number of pipes and other flexible rubber hoses were replaced with rigid pipes, actions taken too late for the worker involved in this incident who suffered serious long-term injuries.”

Media Contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media queries only).

caroline.devaney@dmirs.wa.gov.au

Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

 

WorkSafe
Media release
23 Nov 2021

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