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Employee prank backfires with work site explosion

Worksafe coal inspector
Worksafe coal inspector

One mischievous act violently shattered a work site.

Authorities recently investigated why an employee thought it would be funny to blow up his workplace.

In August 2022 subcontractor Vuksich and Borich discovered a gas cylinder that had leaked all night. After detecting natural gas in the area one worker joked about starting his cigarette lighter.

The employee accidentally created a spark, causing a fire and explosion that severely burnt five individuals including himself.

Investigators eventually concluded the incident was a “workplace prank gone wrong”. The accused deeply regretted his actions and participated in “restorative justice” with victims.

“If you smell gas anywhere take it seriously,” WorkSafe New Zealand energy safety technical officer Paul Stannard said in a public statement.

WorkSafe made the following recommendations when gas leaks are detected:

  • be careful
  • do not use flames or mobile phones
  • do not turn on electrical appliances
  • leave the area and call the gas supplier or the emergency hotline.

The employer complied with WorkSafe enforcement measures and identified issues with gas bottle storage and worker training.

“The company has since introduced a … permit procedure and prohibits storage of gas cylinders or gas bottles inside shipping containers,” area investigation manager Paul Budd said.

“We will not carry out further enforcement because prosecuting an individual or organisation is not in the public interest in this instance.”

Click here to read the full safety alert.

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