There is no doubt working with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is a dangerous occupation. Just one misplaced spark can lead to disastrous consequences. Such repercussions almost occurred at a Sydney service station in August 2012, recently highlighted in a court case.
According to WorkCover NSW, a lone service station employee was filling up four LPG cylinders. Each was connected to the larger cylinders located in the designated filling area.
However, the deadman's handle on all of the cylinders had been damaged and were no longer fit for purpose. This caused a sudden ignition, and a fire soon took over the property. While there were many people on the forecourt at the time of the accident, it was fortunate that nobody was hurt.
Given the proximity of the service station employee to the ignition point, the worker came close to filing a total and permanent disability claim.
Workcover NSW takes legal action
As after every workplace accident in NSW, the state authority investigated to examine the reasons behind the incident and how the business could have avoided the fire. WorkCover NSW concluded that there were questions to be answered, and Executive Director Work Health and Safety Peter Dunphy explained why.
"The incident was clearly foreseeable, and indeed foreseen, as the director of the business had twice before sacked employees for overriding the deadman's handle," he said.
"In the worst case scenario, the consequences of not following work health and safety procedures could have led to the death or serious injury of an employee or member of the public. There are simple steps to be followed to minimise the risk of fire and in previous cases the service station operators had been quite willing to apply these steps."
Following the investigation, the authority laid two charges under Section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Pleading guilty to both charges, the service station operator was convicted and fined $85,000 for not keeping a safe workplace.
NSW workers' compensation
It is important to remember that in NSW, anyone injured at work can claim workers' compensation. There are personal injury lawyers available who specialise in these claims and are able to provide a free consultation to discuss your personal situation.
Many lawyers operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, so they can advise you on your chances of success free of charge. If they think you have a case, it's completely up to you whether you engage their services.