Workers on APLNG suffer breathing issues from smoke: Union
ABOUT 40 Bechtel workers were treated for breathing issues yesterday morning, according to Electrical Trades Union Central Queensland Organiser Craig Giddens, who posted on our Facebook page, as smoke from nearby bush fires blanketed the city and Curtis Island.
Workers have told us that the on-site medical centre was filled with people struggling to breath while supervisors appeared to dismiss workers' concerns the smoke was presenting a safety issue.
One worker, an electrician, said they were told "it's just smoke", and to wear masks if they were concerned, despite the fact workers say they couldn't even see the wind socks used in evacuation procedures when gas leaks are detected.
Gas trains and cranes were barely visible and workers overcome by the smoke retreated to nearby sheds, without clearance from supervisors, to wait out the smoke, according to the worker.
By the time wind had cleared the area by around 10.30am, 200-300 workers on the APLNG site had made their way to the crib sheds to wait it out because the smoke had become "unbearable", the worker said.
"They wanted us to wear a disposable face mask, like the ones you get from Bunnings, and just keep working," the electrician said.
"They didn't seem too fazed about it really. It just leaves the workforce with the impression there's no regard for health and safety."
He said Health and Safety Representatives attempts to discuss concerns with supervisors ended in arguments.
LNG plant construction company Bechtel said work was stopped in some areas on the site "where appropriate" including crane activity and working at heights because of the smoke.
The company confirmed some workers visited the medical centres across the three projects but did not say how many.
General manager Kevin Berg said in a statement all actions taken in response to the smoke hazard were done so in consultation with the workforce Health and Safety Representatives and site safety teams.
A fire at West Stowe near Calliope River Road, south of Yarwun which started on Monday is still burning today, although Queensland Fire and Emergency Service says it is under control.
There is a high fire danger today with strong winds forecast for the rest of the afternoon and Thursday.