STENA Drilling has been fined $330,000 in the Magistrates Court of Victoria after pleading guilty to breaching its duty to provide a safe workplace, following the deaths of two workers in 2012.
Floorman Peter Meddens and toolpusher Barry Denholm were killed in an accident on the Stena Clyde mobile offshore drilling kunit that occurred during drilling operations in Commonwealth waters in the Bass Strait.
The court found Stena guilty of breaching the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act (OPGGS) by failing to implement and maintain safe work systems.
When delivering her decision, the magistrate in the case said the families of the victims had suffered “a profound impact” following the deaths.
“I note that there were systems in place. It was their implementation on the day that gives rise to the charge,” she said.
“Scrupulous adherence to systems is essential. The consequence of any negligence is profound.”
In a statement released following the decision, Stena Drilling Australia said it regretted the deaths and extended its sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of the men.
“We have cooperated fully with the authority investigating this tragic incident and have taken all measures that we can to prevent a similar incident in the future,” the group said.
“Stena Drilling is committed to maintaining safe working practices on our rigs and we are constantly striving to ensure we have a safe work environment.”
Industry regulator the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), which brought the criminal prosecution against Stena, said penalties under the OPGGS Act had been significantly increased since the accident took place.
A facility operator found guilty of negligently breaching their duties relating to occupational health and safety under the act can now face a maximum penalty of $1,487,500 for a body corporate, an increase of 170 per cent on the previous maximum penalty of $550,000, the regulator said.