The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) is calling on the Government to release the report on the Niquan Energy Trinidad explosion that claimed the life of pipefitter Allanlane Ramkissoon.
At a media conference at the Paramount Building, San Fernando, yesterday, OWTU president general Ancel Roget said the Government continued to hold the report close to its chest.
However, he said the report from the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into the Paria/LMCS diving tragedy, released on Friday, should be a catalyst for change.
Ramkissoon, 35, of Barrackpore, died on June 18, 2023, after suffering severe burns during an explosion at the gas-to-liquids plant based inside the Guaracara Refining Company facility in Pointe-a-Pierre.
Three days earlier, Ramkissoon, an employee of Massy Energy Engineered Solutions (MEES), suffered severe burn injuries while carrying out preparatory work for planned maintenance works on the plant. An ambulance took him to the West Shore Medical Private Hospital in Cocorite, where he underwent surgery to stabilise his condition. He then went to a burn facility in Colombia, but his body could not withstand the injuries.
Roget said to date, no one has been held accountable. He said the buck stops with the CoE report, as if industries do not adopt the recommendations, other fatal incidents could occur. He lamented that like the Paria Fuel Trading Company, there was no union at the Niquan plant to help prevent health and safety hazards.
Roget said the OWTU contributed heavily to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, as it has industry knowledge, experience and competence. He said there were problems although Parliament passed the act, as employers and the Government did not want to proclaim the law as they felt it put power in workers’ hands to ensure their safety. Employers also felt making the work environment safe would cut into their pockets, he claimed.
Regarding the Niquan and Paria reports, Roget said there are vaults of reports gathering dust for various investigations over the years. He said OWTU had to press governments and employers to ensure they implement recommendations.
“What do you think would happen in areas where you do not have a union present? It is all about not just the investigation for investigating sake of public relations and so on, but getting to the root cause, dealing with it and making sure that all of the recommendations that emanate from these investigations are implemented to the letter,” he said.
Roget said governments, then and now, have abdicated their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to put the required personnel in place.
He claimed the Occupational Safety and Health Authority suffered from a lack of inspectors, and those there are on contract and intimidated to ensure government workplaces are safe. The OWTU called on the Government to adequately staff the authority and other investigative bodies and provide job security.
He said taxpayers benefit when workers work. He added workers only ask that employers treat them with a proper duty of care to ensure they return to their families at the end of the day.