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Putting safety ‘dead last’ could have killed employees says industry

Scarborough project
Scarborough project

Prioritising productivity over worker wellbeing could have led to deadly consequences, an advocacy warned.

Industry representatives have accused a multinational resources producer of neglecting its duty to ensure every employee is unharmed.

Multiple individuals recently complained about substandard conditions that allegedly led to multiple pipeline flooding events in the past month at Woodside Energy’s $18 billion Scarborough project. The latest incident reportedly involved a damaged trunkline in January 2024.

“Saipem have completely f–d up the pipe laying contract on our Scarborough project because they have put the safety of workers dead last … [and the contractors] have dropped the ball,” Offshore Alliance said on Facebook.

“The first serious incident when we lost dynamic positioning had the potential to maim and kill, and it was only blind luck which prevented a fatality.”

Offshore Alliance blamed Woodside for putting price ahead of occupational safety and taking “unacceptable shortcuts”.

“[Due to] not holding Saipem to account and having the progress of the pipe lay as the key performance $$ bonus for our senior Scarborough construction team … [Woodside] have let Saipem continue with the pipe lay despite … not sorting out their safety management systems and ensuring the Castorone [vessel] was safe to lay pipe,” a spokesperson said.

Nobody was injured or died. Crew members were successfully evacuated and work was temporarily suspended. The proponent stressed it has worked with Saipem to “ensure the wellbeing of all personnel … safe ongoing operations and remediation work to the trunkline”.

“Two separate incidents in January on a contractor vessel installing the Scarborough pipeline. Neither incident resulted in any injuries to personnel and localised damage to the trunkline was sustained which will be remediated,” a Woodside spokesperson said according to the Australian Associated Press.

The vessel previously experienced an uncontrolled movement that was “violent enough” to break the pipeline according to union spokesperson Brad Gandy.

Gandy urged Woodside to comprehensively review Saipem’s health and safety standards and culture.

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