Company fined $41,500 after confined spaces 'near miss'
Fuelcraft Pty Ltd supplies trucks and tanks and provides maintenance services to the fuel and gas industry.
On 15 May 2019, a third year 'Heavy Fabrication Engineer' Apprentice and another employee entered a large ISO tank which had been used to store diesel on a train carriage, taking oxy torch with them, and were both wearing dust masks and goggles.. They used a scissor lift to get into the tank.
Atmospheric testing was done with a sniffer by dropping it into the tank and obtaining an oxygen reading. This was the first time that the apprentice had undertaken 'hot works' - that is, work which can produce heat, flames or sparks. Typical hot works includes welding, flame cutting or grinding and usually includes the use of fuel gases such as Acetylene with Oxygen for cutting.
The employee could not see the floor when he entered the tank but he could feel some sort of dirt on the bottom. He began cutting the tank and after about ten minutes, due to the lack of ventilation, the smoke from cutting the steel which was impregnated with diesel became too dense. The tank became very smoky and dark. The apprentice noticed flames on the floor.
The other employee was able to get out of the tank but the apprentice fell, hitting his elbow and sliding to the bottom of the tank. On his second attempt to get out, the other employee was able to pull him up by the arm.
The company failed to maintain a safe system of work in relation to work in confined spaces and failed to provide necessary information, instruction and training to employees. It also failed to notify WorkSafe of the incident.
Fuelcraft pleaded guilty and was without conviction sentenced to pay a fine of $41,500 and to pay costs of $5,565.
Read more: Confined spaces and poorly ventilated areas, Confined Spaces regulations
To check for more Victorian prosecutions before the next edition, go to WorkSafe Victoria's Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.
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