Civil construction company fined $425,000 over perlite insulation fatality

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Monday, 10 April, 2023 - 12:00
Incidents & prosecutions
Western Australia

A civil construction company based in Western Australia has been convicted and fined $425,000 over the death of a worker at the INPEX onshore LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility.

On 29 November 2017, 56-year-old Carl Delaney was conducting insulation repair works on an LNG tank, and the works being performed were high risk, with workers working in a confined space with low ventilation, high temperatures and restricted mobility.

The workers were also exposed to the risk of falling from height and engulfment in the loose-fill perlite insulation which had been pumped in between the tanks inner and outer skin. Delaney fell into the perlite and could not be revived when he was rescued.

Whittens Group pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a health and safety duty under Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011.

The Northern Territory’s WHS regulator, Peggy Cheong, said this case was a classic example of how useless documented plans, policies and procedures were if they were not adequately implemented and followed by the workforce.

“The INPEX Onshore LNG Facility construction was an international joint venture partnership and a significant major project for Northern Territory,” Cheong said.

“Fitting for such a high-profile project and in line with the hazardous work being performed at the time of the incident, six separate plans and procedures were in place to ensure the safety of the workers working in the LNG tanks.

“However, it’s not enough to just produce safe work method statements, job hazard assessments, and other plans or procedures if your workers do not follow them.

“Proper implementation and adequate supervision of workers, especially those performing high-risk work is required by employers.”