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Contractors charged for workplace fatality at $65B gas project in Top End

Whittens Group subcontractor Carl Delaney
Whittens Group subcontractor Carl Delaney

Authorities are taking legal action against a heavy machinery maker and civil construction company, years after a tragic workplace tragedy happened at a US$45 billion (A$65.6B) resources development in Northern Australia.

Northern Territory WorkSafe recently charged Whittens Group and Japan-headquartered Kawasaki Heavy Industries for failing to comply with a health and safety duty, following the death of Whittens Group subcontractor Carl Delaney (pictured).

Harness not secured

The 56-year-old allegedly fell and suffocated to death while performing insulation repair work on one of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanks at INPEX’s Ichthys LNG Project in Darwin back in the year 2017. NT WorkSafe understands he was wearing a safety harness but it was not secured at the time of the accident.

NT WorkSafe described the work Delaney performed as “high risk in a confined space” and blamed the contractors for rostering workers without a colleague who could have helped rescue him after falling into the insulation material below.

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$1.5M fine

“Both Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd and Whittens Group Pty Ltd failed in their health and safety duty under section 19 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011,” the authority said in a public statement. “The companies failed to provide and maintain a safe system of work as per section 19(3)(c) and provide supervision as per section 19(3)(f).”

The matter is scheduled for Darwin Local Court on 14 January 2020. If both companies are found guilty, they could face a maximum penalty fine of $1.5 million.

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