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Australian winery fined for fatal 2008 explosion

23 September 2014

A New South Wales court has fined Drayton’s Family Wines a total of A$210,000 and ordered the company to pay the prosecutor’s costs after finding it guilty of failing to provide a safe workplace, according to the Newcastle Journal. Workcover NSW brought the case against the winery and an engineering company, Perfab Engineering, for two breaches each of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

Stock image
Stock image

Perfab will face a sentencing hearing in December.

An engineer from Perfab was helping install an upgraded cooling system in the winery when he began welding on a stainless steel tank without knowing that it contained 9,000 litres of ethanol.

Vapour in the tank ignited causing a series of explosions that instantly killed the engineer and a winery staff member, and also seriously injuring another assistant winemaker. The explosions blew the roof off the Pokolbin winery and was felt at various locations around the Hunter Valley on the morning of January 17, 2008.

Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon heard evidence that the winery lacked an occupational health and safety plan and had not conducted a fire safety audit, amongst other concerns.

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