N Touch
Tuesday 18 June 2019
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Editorial

Safety on trial

Photo courtesy Pixabay
Photo courtesy Pixabay

THE RELEVANT government agencies must swiftly complete investigations into the deadly explosion at Massy Energy Production Resources’ Moruga West Fields site.

The accident resulted in the death of Phillip Ramlochan, a father of three from South Oropouche who had dreams of joining the Prison Service, and also put his co-worker Drigpaul Sookoo in peril. Both were working on behalf of a sub-contractor, Total Contractor Services Ltd (TCSL).

The initial reports in relation to this matter bear uncomfortable similarities to many industrial sector workplace accidents of the past.

According to a police report, at about 8.15 am, Ramlochan and Sookoo were working at the compound when the tanker exploded. Reports said the workers were thrown several feet into the air before landing on a railing. Residents in the area said their homes shook during the explosion. Medical sources said Sookoo suffered injuries to his face and chest.

In a statement issued hours after the incident, Massy Energy Production Resources expressed condolences to the families of those affected and stated governmental agencies had been notified of the accident, and investigations were underway.

“We continue to lend our support to TCSL as they work with the family of the other injured employee,” the company said.

There is a set system of procedures and regulations when it comes to workplace deaths involving agencies such as the Occupational Health and Safety Authority, the Fire Service, the Police Service as well as district medical officers functioning under the Coroner’s Act. But despite the proliferation of rules and processes, very often the process is not as transparent as family members would like. This week’s accident seems to be no exception.

Relatives of Ramlochan were moved on Wednesday to call for an independent investigation.

“We do not know how this happened and we are not getting answers,” said Ramlochan’s sister, Jean Gour. Ramlochan’s brother, Nigel, said he was displeased, claiming there was what he deemed to be secrecy over the investigations. He said he was disturbed relatives were not allowed to see Ramlochan’s body.

Despite the best efforts of the State and private companies, the complex nature of assessing liability coupled with the need for impartial examination of the facts militates against the fullest degree of transparency, something that is required as a matter of urgency in cases like these. Not only do family members have a right to know the facts, but there are public-interest reasons why members of the public should know as well.

There should be a central agency, independent of the State, that has oversight of managing the response to harrowing incidents like these to prevent precisely the type of complaints that have been aired, complaints which may or may not be justified.

The State’s regulation of workplace safety is placed under trial every time a workplace accident occurs.

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