Broome explosion deaths set for court


Broome heavy-haulage firm Oilfield Transport Services and energy services supplier Baker Hughes Australia face WorkSafe charges over the deaths three years ago of a tanker driver and a depot manager. <br /><br /> Both companies have been charged with failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and thereby causing the deaths of the two workers, the safety watchdog says. The case will be heard in the Broome Magistrates Court in January, when WorkSafe will allege that there were safe work systems available to both employers that could have prevented the deaths.

December 1, 2011

Broome heavy-haulage firm Oilfield Transport Services and energy services supplier Baker Hughes Australia face WorkSafe charges over the deaths three years ago of a tanker driver and a depot manager.

Both companies have been charged with failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and thereby causing the deaths of the two workers, the safety watchdog says.

The case will be heard in the Broome Magistrates Court in January, when WorkSafe will allege that there were safe work systems available to both employers that could have prevented the deaths.

Leon Mobbs and Geoff Lucas, both 51, died in December 2008 when the tanker they were standing next to ruptured and exploded during attempts to empty it of a load of barite powder.

Lucas and another employee had collected two tanker-loads of barite powder from Baker Hughes’s depot and delivered it to the Broome wharf for transfer to a supply vessel, WorkSafe says.

Mobbs had accompanied the tankers in a car towing the required compressor.

WorkSafe alleges that the transfer could not be completed because the powder contained too much moisture, causing it to clog inside the tanker.

The three men returned to the Baker Hughes depot to empty the tankers back into the silos.

One of the tankers was successfully unloaded, and the men commenced the unloading of the second tanker.

WorkSafe alleges that, several times, the tanker was de-pressurised while the inside was manually scraped down, then re-pressurised to remove the powder.

On the final occasion the tanker exploded, causing fatal injuries.

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