NSCA Foundation

Worker engulfed by flames, company and director charged


Thursday, 09 November, 2017


The death of a worker at a waste recycling facility in Yatala has led to charges being laid against both a company and its director.

Oil Tech International Pty Ltd and company director Michael Joseph Reid have been charged in relation to the death of worker Matthew Adam O’Brien at the facility on 5 November 2015.

As a Category 1 offence involving reckless conduct, Reid faces a maximum five years imprisonment or a fine of $600,000, while the company could be liable for fines of up to $3 million.

It is alleged O’Brien was using a heat gun close to where a tanker containing water and unleaded petrol was being unloaded when he was engulfed by flames and died.

The business carried out waste recycling, including receipt of waste oil and flammables. The evidence obtained during investigation raised serious questions regarding systems for testing and detection of substances on receipt, lack of any hot work permit system, adequacy of worker training, and isolation of hot work from flammables.

Reid, the director of the company, is charged with not exercising due diligence in ensuring Oil Tech International Pty Ltd complied with its duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. It is alleged he did not gain a proper understanding of the company’s operations and the hazards arising. He is also accused of not ensuring the company used and implemented appropriate resources and processes to minimise risk.

In essence, it is alleged reasonable effort was not made so the company could develop or put in place controls to avoid ignition sources being close to flammables.

After being passed by state parliament recently, tough new industrial manslaughter laws will further protect Queensland workers on the job.

Negligent employers culpable in workplace fatalities in Queensland face severe penalties, with individuals found guilty looking at 20 years imprisonment and corporate offenders liable for fines of up to $10 million.

For more information on work health and safety prosecutions, visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au.

NSCA Foundation is a member based, non-profit organisation working together with members to improve workplace health and safety throughout Australia. For more information and membership details click here
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