Bechtel, unions meet after Rio Tinto Yarwun 2 accident

Bechtel managing director Andy Greig yesterday met with unions following a serious accident at its Yarwun 2 construction site.

Earlier this week, a worker nearly lost both his legs at the Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun 2 refinery construction site after a metal hatch fell from scaffolding.

The meeting was to discuss concerns regarding safety and recent improvements on the Bechtel run site.

Greig stated that a detailed investigation is underway into the causes of the injury.

“What happened this week was a result of equipment failure and not related to the safety incidents that occurred in April,” Greig said.

“It’s very unusual that a hatchway cover would come away from its weld. We’ve never seen this type of equipment failure before and the cause will be thoroughly investigated.”

Similar work areas at the site have been isolated with exclusion zones and the inspection of welds is being undertaken.

Electrical Trades Union organiser Craig Giddens said the discussions with Bechtel had been constructive.

“We’re pleased the company is listening to our concerns, and are confident the Yarwun 2 team is refocused on safety,” Giddens said.

Bechtel and the unions had previously come to a head after claims that safety concerns were going unheard at the construction site.

Rio Tinto Alcan welcomed the discussion between Bechtel and the unions, stating that it “has been very saddened by this week’s injury,” and that it looks forward to working towards a goal of zero safety incidents.

Following investigations into three additional incidents in April this year, Bechtel has introduced new safety initiatives at the Yarwun 2 site, including retraining, education and communication to reinforce safe work practices; recruitment of additional construction supervisors and safety advisors; and the re-scheduling of work activities to night shift and weekends to reduce interface issues between work groups; as well as maintaining a focus on safe behaviours for the rest of the year.

According to Bechtel, prior to this accident the project had worked over three million hours without a lost time incident.

Workers will return to the Queensland site today.

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