Ichthys under fire over incidents "cover up"

Ichthys onshore facility

Ichthys onshore facility

The joint-venture contractors accused of misreporting months of safety and injury incidents at INPEX’s Ichthys LNG Project in the Northern Territory have strongly rejected the claims.

The Electrical Trade Union (ETU) and Unions NT yesterday released an official statement accusing the contractor of a raft of safety issues and misreported incidents at the onshore Bladin Point site.

The JV is made up of JGC Corporation, KBR and Chiyoda Corporation (JKC). JKC was awarded main civil works package at the Ichthys project.

The ETU alleges that JKC “covered up” an incident on 3 September where one worker was crushed by an elevated platform. The union added that the contractor did not report the incident as a lost time injury (LTI), despite the worker spending time in hospital and away from work.

ETU and Unions NT representative Paul Kirby said the failure by UGL-Kentz – the electrical sub-contractor at the site – to report the injury reflected a concerning culture of endangering worker safety.

Mr Kirby added that last week’s accident was 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.”

Speaking with Gas Today, Mr Kirby added that union officials had faced significant issues in gaining access to the site.

“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.

“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.”

JKC, gov’t uphold safety and reporting record

INPEX’s 2015 Sustainability Report stated that the company experienced seven lost time injuries at their Australian operations during the 2014/15 financial year. The company states it has achieved a total recorded injury rate for the last financial year of 0.98.

A JKC spokesperson has outright rejected the ETU and Unions NT’s allegations of hiding or misreporting the incidents.

JKC Australia LNG stated that safety was its number one value on the Project, “and we strongly reject any assertions to the contrary.”

“The Project has a strong track record of proactive safety leadership and management. In terms of incident reporting, JKC works closely with NT WorkSafe and reports all notifiable incidents in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act,” the spokesperson said.

“All events on site are reported, recorded and investigated in accordance with Australian legislative requirements, international and Australian standards, and contractor site procedures.”

JKC alleged that it had facilitated about 1,000 site visits with union organisers, with more than 400 visits taking place in 2015 alone.

“JKC has strict site access procedures in place, which are in line with requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act, to ensure the safety of our workforce and visitors to site.”

The NT government safety watchdog, Worksafe also backed up the JV’s operations, saying that it has had a good relationship with INPEX since the project’s commencement.

Neil Burgess, director of operations at NT WorkSafe told Gas Today that the crushing incident highlighted by the ETU and Unions NT had been appropriately reported.

“Workplace Safety Inspectors regularly visit the site and work with all subcontractors on the project to ensure they understand their obligations under the Northern Territory’s work health and safety legislation,” Mr Burgess said.

“The crush injury incident which occurred on Thursday 3 September was reported to NT WorkSafe on that day and is currently being investigated.”


Eddie Morton is associate editor at Gas Today: emorton@gs-press.com.au

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