Explosives factory death fines reduced

The South Australian Industrial Court has slashed the fines against those charged over an explosives factory blast which killed three workers

Quin Investments’ explosives factory in the Beetaloo Valley, near Gladstone north of Adelaide, blew up in May 2006, killing three workers on site and wounding two others.

Following a long investigation by SafeWorkSA Quin and one of its directors, Nikolai Kuzub, were found guilty of series breaches of OHS law, and were fined $95 000 each.

These fines have now been reduced to $75 000 and $60 000 respectively, according to the ABC.

Originally the court found there was inadequate maintenance of machinery and both defendants were in breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Safety At Work Blog reported.

Court documents stated the "business conducted by the defendant on 9 May 2006 at Gladstone was the manufacture of explosives. The bad practices of allowing the premix operation and the TNT operation to occur at the same time, as well as the storage of methoxide, methanol and TNT in close proximity to the factory, clearly indicates that the defendants did not take any positive steps to make risks as low as reasonably practicable. The end result was that employees engaged in the factory on 9 May 2006 were put at risk. Tragically as a result of an explosion that occurred in the factory Damian Harris, Darren Millington and Matthew Keeley were killed and Cameron Edson and Damian John were injured".

At the time Grant Germein, the lawyer representing Quin, stated that the company was used as a scapegoat.

Germein said the company was being used as a scapegoat and SafeWork SA’s investigation into the incident was "not directed at the cause of the explosion", but to "see if they could find a culprit".

The ABC reported that lawyer for the defendants Grant Germein thinks the magistrate sided with the Government and SafeWork SA.

"The magistrate has simply accepted what we regard as nonsense theory put up by the Premier’s Department," he said after the hearing.

Following this the company moved operations to the Northern Territory.

However, the court later ruled that the cause of the explosion was not proved beyond reasonable doubt, according to NineMSN.

"The evidence established only that there were breaches of the act relating to the unsafe state of affairs existing at the premises of Quin at the time of the explosion," judges said yesterday.


Image: The ABC


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