College caretaker receives damages following gas explosion

Date: Oct 26, 2019

The NSW Supreme Court has granted a caretaker and night watchman at Unity College in south-western Sydney a significant compensation payout after the man was severely injured in a gas explosion. This leak was due to negligent gasfitting installation, which allowed vapours to leak into ceiling and floor spaces. A number of defendants, including the man’s employer, a plumbing and gasfitting contractor and the gas supplier, have been ordered to pay damages (calculated based on their respective involvement).

How did the gas leak happen?

Unity College was constructed in 2007, and a gas regulator was fitted in the ceiling of the building in which the explosion took place. This formed part of the wider gas installation. Later that same year, a prominent Australian gas supplier delivered an LPG storage tank full of gas to the college, which was connected to the gas appliances around the campus by the building contractor. Two years later, a gasfitting contractor was engaged to work on the second stage of construction, which included installing a new gas line to the existing line at its tank end.

In early 2010, a significant amount of LPG gas had vented from the original regulator settled in the ceiling and floor space of the building in which the incident took place. These spaces were directly around a storeroom the caretaker had access to. There was some conjecture as to whether or not a lighter ignited the pooled gas. However, the Supreme Court ruled that it was more likely that a spark in the light switch or the fluorescent fittings in the storeroom caused the explosion which led to the plaintiff’s severe personal injury.

How did the Supreme Court decide on fair compensation?

Although there were seven defendants in total involved in this case, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the plaintiff against:

  • The first defendant, the caretaker’s employer, for damages under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW), plus the plaintiff’s costs of the proceedings.
  • The third defendant, the insurance company representing the original building firm, for damages under the Corporations Act 2001 (CTH), plus the plaintiff’s costs of the proceedings.
  • The sixth defendant, the gasfitting contractor that installed the second gas line, for damages under the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW), plus the plaintiff’s costs of the proceedings.
  • The seventh defendant, the gas supplier, for damages under the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW), plus the plaintiff’s costs of the proceedings.

If you think that you may have a compensation claim for injuries or illness you sustained while working, contact Gerard Malouf & Partners today to see how we can help.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.