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Prosecution Details

Defendant Coogee Chemicals Pty Ltd
Trading Name Not Applicable
Section 19(1) and 19(7)
Regulation Not Applicable
Offence Date Tuesday, 1 April 1997
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employer, failed so far as was practicable to provide and maintain a working environment in which one of its employees was not exposed to a hazard and, by that failure, caused serious harm to that employee.

Background Details

The defendant operated terminals for the purpose of storing and transporting hazardous substances. On 1 April 1997 employees of the defendant, acting in the course of their employment, pumped sulphuric acid from the vessel "Ryushin" berthed at the Port Hedland No.3 wharf, to storage tanks at the Port Hedland terminal. The sulphuric acid was pumped through flexible hoses, 9 metres in length and 150mm in diameter, connected to a flanged metallic device known as a spool piece, which was in turn connected to the manifold of the "Ryushin". The spool piece itself was fitted with a 50mm branch line to which an air hose was connected and controlled by a ball valve.

The injuries were sustained when the air hose came off the 50mm steel fitting to which it had been clamped. 98% sulphuric acid blowed back through the spool piece and out of the 50mm branch connection since it had not been fitted with a non-return valve.

During this process sulphuric acid made contact with an employee. The injured person sustained severe burn injuries to his face, chest, arms, back, thighs and overall to 55% of his body surface area. To wash the acid off his body he jumped into the sea. The employee was provided with adequate personal protective equipment such as PVC jacket and trousers, elbow length PVC gloves, rubber boots, chemical goggles, and face shield but did not wear them.

His Worship Malley SM stated that while he accepts the prospect of mechanical failure or inadvertence is at best from a defence point of view, unlikely or improbable he accepts the prosecution submission in line with the authority of Softwood Holdings that in this instance the risks were not far fetched or fanciful and therefore there were risks which should have been guarded against and were foreseeable. When weighing the probability of occurrence, with the severity of harm and costs of remedying the risk His Worship concluded that the defendant did fail so far as was practicable to provide and maintain a working environment in which the injured person was not exposed to hazard and by reason of that failure caused serious harm to him.

The defendant pleaded not guilty. The penalty was imposed under section 19(7).

Lead Image
Outcome Summary


Conviction Date 26 Jul 1999
Court Perth Court of Petty Sessions
Fine $10,000
Costs $8,000
Charge Number 22292/98