Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Tenth worker dies at Petrotrin in ten years
Contract worker Arvitar Ramkhelawan yesterday became the tenth worker to have died on one of Petrotrin’s installations in the past ten years. Petrotrin has confirmed that Ramkhelawan, 23, who was employed by contractor Premnath Lalchan, died in an accident at Forest Reserve, Fyzabad, around 1 pm. He lived at Quarry Village, Siparia A release from the company said he was working on an oil well when the accident occurred.
The company did not give specifics of the accident but said a report was immediately lodged with its security department, the police, the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) and the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs. Petrotrin also extended condolences to the Ramkhelawan family.
In an immediate response yesterday, president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Ancel Roget called on Minister of Energy Kevin Ramnarine to shake up the board and management. Otherwise, he warned, more innocent lives would be sacrificed. In extending condolences to the family, Roget again claimed there were unsafe practices at the state-owned company.
He said: “Only last week I was talking about a number of unsafe practices taking place at Petrotrin and the manner in which the operations were being conducted, resulting in fatalities. “So we go back to the fact that the last three years, under this president, Khalid Hassanali, we have had no less than five fatalities and if you go back further, you would see Petrotrin continues to put workers in harm’s way.”
He said Ramkhelawan left home yesterday morning with only the intention to perform an honest day’s work “but he was placed in a compromising environment because the contract workers are held to very little or no safety standards. “The contract workers are at risk. They are at the mercy of an uncaring Petrotrin management and when you make that public they try to silence you.”
But Roget vowed: “We are going to be responding to this one because the blood of that worker is on the hands of Petrotrin’s management and the board and, of course, the ministry, who continues to ensure that these programmes are contracted out and farmed out.” Last Wednesday, pump technician Sharaz Karim suffered burns at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery while working on a boiler fan. He was treated and discharged from Petrotrin’s Augustus Long Hospital.
Petrotrin fatalities since 2004
• Kenneth Merrique, Trinmar — August 16, 2004.
• Dave Namdeo ER 80 explosion,Grande Ravine Forest Reserve — March 11, 2007.
• Ricardo Felix, Trinmar — May 21, 2007.
• Finbar Adonis, Pointe-a-Pierre, scaffolding — December 9, 2007.
• Victor Roberts, fireman, Penal — October 14, 2011.
• Chanardath Ramsaroop, pipe rack well servicing, Santa Flora — November 22, 2011.
• Joseph Carrington, FCCU plant, Pointe-a-Pierre — July 24, 2012,
• Asim Jamal Arthur, WSL#20, Santa Flora — August 3, 2012.
• Nicholas Ali, Morne Diablo farmout, Trincan, Penal — February 27, 2013
• Arvitar Ramkhelawan (contractor Premnath Lalchan), Forest Reserve — March 25, 2014.