Salini Australia has been hit with a $200,000 fine after an explosion at the Forrestfield Airport Link project in 2018 left an employee with a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures.
Construction contractor Salini Australia has been hit with a $200,000 fine after an explosion at the Forrestfield Airport Link project in 2018 left an employee with a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures.
Salini, a subsidiary of global construction contractor Webuild, formerly Salini Impregilo, pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe working environment and causing serious harm to an employee. The fine was imposed by the Perth Magistrates Court today.
The charge related to an incident while the contractor was working on the state government’s $1.86 billion Airport Link project in July 2018.
Three Salini employees were connecting steel pipes in an underground tunnel near the airport station platform when there was an explosion.
A 15-centimetre hose containing high-pressure compressed air had detached from a steel pipe, causing an unrestrained whiplash motion.
One worker was struck in the face by the hose, knocking him unconscious and causing a traumatic brain injury, severe facial fractures, lacerations, a fractured right hand and an eye injury.
After nine hours of surgery, the worker was placed in an induced coma for 11 days.
The worker has since undergone further facial surgeries, dental surgeries, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
According to WorkSafe WA commissioner Darren Kavanagh, the risks associated with hoses containing high-pressure air had already been identified and documented by Salini, including in its safe work method statement.
The company’s documents claimed all high-pressure hoses were fitted with ‘whip-checks’ to avoid any incidents, but Mr Kavanagh said nobody at Salini directed the control measure to be implemented or checked whether it was in place.
Mr Kavanagh said WorkSafe regularly encountered instances where a safe work method statement had not been implemented as written.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Salini received a $150,000 fine 14 months ago after a worker suffered major electrical burns when a crane collided with high-voltage power lines.