Safety issues at the Northern Territory’s Inpex LNG project, which resulted in the crushing of a worker on an elevated platform being covered up and not reported as a lost time injury, are indicative of deep problems with the project and its work culture, unions have warned.
Electrical Trades Union organiser Paul Kirby, who is also secretary of Unions NT, said that the failure by UGL-Kentz to report this injury was the latest in a series of acts by contractors on the project that pointed to a culture of endangering worker safety.
“Nothing is more important than safety on any project, especially on a project like this,” he said.
“Make no mistake, this is a high-risk industry and a company that compromises safety is not worth doing business with.”
Last week’s accident is the latest in a string of incidents that have resulted in the hospitalisation of workers, but were not reported by project management.
“We are aware of at least four previous safety incidents where workers were hospitalised for days, but that were not reported as lost time injuries,” Mr Kirby said.
“Workers have been burned, seriously lacerated and have sustained long-term back injuries, but the company doesn’t seem to care enough to maintain basic safety reporting procedures.
“We have even had workers being pressured to read paperwork while they were in hospital so contractors can claim that they were working.”
Mr Kirby said that unions had faced difficulties appointing health and safety officers on the site, as they would often be targeted for dismissal simply due to their position of oversight.
“When union officials have visited the sites to investigate safety concerns, they have been prevented from accessing areas where breaches were alleged, and even physically restrained,” he said.
“That is despite the law providing us with the right to unimpeded access to investigate safety issues.
“The culture on the Inpex project is simply not good enough, and it is endangering the health and lives of workers on the project, with investors even starting to take notice.
“Investors know that if a project puts safety first, that’s a good indicator that it’s a healthy prospect. But if they’re covering injuries up so that management can look good and meet targets, it rings alarm bells.”
Media enquiries: Lachlan Williams — 0447 682 027