TWO companies operating in Broome have been fined a combined $140,000 over the deaths of two workers three years ago.

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Australia and Oilfields Transport Services, which was engaged by Baker, were both charged with failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment that allegedly caused the deaths of two workers.

Baker Hughes was fined $80,000 and Oilfields Transport was fined $60,000 in the Broome Magistrates Court today.

In December 2008, Leon Mobbs and Geoff Lucas, both 51, were killed when the tanker they were standing next to ruptured and exploded during attempts to unload barite powder.

The powder is used as a weighting agent in drilling fluids in oil and gas exploration.

It was alleged the men plus another employee had difficulty unloading the barite powder at the Broome wharf, and decided to take it back to the Baker Hughes depot to empty the tanker back into the silos.

One of the tankers was successfully unloaded, however after numerous attempts to empty the second tanker, it exploded, causing fatal injuries to Messrs Mobbs and Lucas, who were standing next to the tanker.

Worksafe WA commissioner Lex McCulloch said today the case was a tragic example of safe work systems not being in place.

“The tragic deaths of these two men should serve as a reminder that safe systems of work should be in place in every workplace, and that it is crucial that designers’ or manufacturers’ instructions be followed for all plant,” Mr McCulloch said.

“The court was told that the tanker was not maintained in a safe working condition, and that it had not been registered with WorkSafe or inspected by a competent person in many years.

“Safety procedures and adequate training had also been neglected, in all probability contributing to the loss of life that occurred that day.

“But the real tragedy is that there were safe systems of work available to both employers that could have prevented these deaths,” Mr McCulloch said.

http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/local-business/companies-fined-after-fatal-tanker-explosion/story-e6frg2s3-1226356620097