Explosion burns Smash Repairs worker

Nov 05 2017

 A Border business is set to close following an explosion that left a worker in an induced coma with burns.

 
Recoat Smash Repairs staff in Baranduda have been given 30 days’ notice after the July 8 incident last year. 
 
An employee caught alight after vacuuming a transformer tank owned by Wilson Transformer Company as a highly flammable cleaning product exploded.
 
The worker received deep tissue burns to his hands, and burns to his face, ears and neck, some of which could be permanent.
 
The incident caused the business, which had been operating as Recoat Spray Painting at the time, to lose a major contract with Wilson Transformers.
 
The business is now set to close after 16 years.
 
A WorkSafe charge was heard in the Wodonga Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
 
The company was fined $25,000 with further costs of $3430 with conviction.
 
Magistrate Ian Watkins was told the company had started with three staff in Mahers Road at Bandiana, and restored and repaired Defence force equipment.
 
The business lost the army contract in 2013 and successfully won the Wilson contract.
 
The business was built by owners Tony and Anita Valta to the point it had nine employees.
 
Lawyer Justin Hannebery, acting for Recoat, said a decision to close was made this week. 
 
“Beyond the next month, the business isn’t going to be a functioning entity,” he said.
 
The injured worker had caught on fire after the explosion and climbed over the side of the transformer. 
 
He yelled out for assistance and two other staff members poured water over his hands and head. 
 
Paramedics transported him to Albury hospital and he was placed in an induced coma before being airlifted to Melbourne. 
 
Magistrate Ian Watkins said the risks of the job could have been identified. 
 
“The injuries and scars are long term, and in my view we are entitled to the view they might be permanent,” he said. 
 
“It is clearly a serious offence and the maximum penalties are severe.”
 
The court heard it wasn't a case of the risk being known and purposely ignored, but was just missed. 
 
Speaking after the court case, WorkSafe executive director health and safety Marnie Williams said working with flammable chemicals in confined spaces was dangerous. 
 
“Working with flammable chemicals is a high-risk task and working in confined spaces also has its own dangers,” she said. 
 
“When the two tasks are combined, the consequences can be potentially catastrophic unless considerable care is taken.”
 
Source: The Border Mail.

Last changed: Nov 05 2017 at 6:45 AM

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