Police and firefighters examine the kiln which exploded killing a worker at Veolia environmental services. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Police and firefighters examine the kiln which exploded killing a worker at Veolia environmental services. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards GLA271015EXPL

Claims company ignored complaints about unsafe practices

COLLEAGUES of a man who died in a workplace accident last week claimed the company, Veolia Environmental Services, ignored complaints about unsafe practices in the lead-up to the death.

Mark Chapelhow died on Tuesday when a gas kiln exploded at the South Trees site pushing Mr Chapelhow into a steel container. The 31-year-old was rushed to Gladstone Hospital but died shortly after.

One worker, who asked that we didn't name him because he feared he could lose his job, told us colleagues had made complaints about work practices and questioned the maintenance of equipment at the Gladstone site in recent months but it appeared nothing had been done about it.

"The practices are unsafe. They won't work on any machinery or equipment unless they can bill it to a job," he said.

"I know the complaint said they had no regard for health and safety and someone is going to get hurt. They didn't do anything and now a man is dead." The man said he had worked alongside Mr Chapelhow "at different times over the years".

He said he felt sorry for Mr Chapelhow's wife and young child.

"He was a nice fellow and good bloke," he said.

We asked Veolia if it had received any complaints about operations at the Gladstone site but it only responded with the following statement: "As the incident is currently under investigation, Veolia is not in a position to make further comments at this stage. Veolia will continue to co-operate fully with police and authorities."

A spokesperson for Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, the authority investigating the death of Mr Chapelhow, said the department had not received any formal complaints about Veolia's Gladstone site in the past three years.

They also said they had not been notified of any concerns about safety there.



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