23 Nov 2017

'Flagrant' breaches led to tank explosion death

4:48 pm on 23 November 2017

Safety breaches that led to the death of a worker in a tank explosion in south Auckland were on a par with Pike River, a long-time WorkSafe investigator says.

Ron Salter was fined $400,000 and sentenced to four-and-a-half months' home detention over Jamey Lee Bowring's death

Ron Salter was fined $400,000 and sentenced to four-and-a-half months' home detention over Jamey Lee Bowring's death Photo: Supplied

Salters Cartage company director Ron Salter was sentenced to four-and-a-half months' home detention and fined $400,000 today, over the death 24-year-old contractor Jamey Lee Bowring in 2015.

Mr Bowring was welding handrails onto the tank, which contained a mix of petrol, diesel, kerosene and oil, when it exploded.

He was thrown from the tank with such force that his body landed more than a hundred metres away, in a car yard across the road.

During the sentencing at Manukau District Court, Judge Richard McIlraith said the explosion also propelled the 450-kilogram tank lid a hundred metres away "and displaced the tank itself 420 millimetres from its original foundation".

"The debris was propelled over a wide area of 200 metres," he said.

Judge McIlraith said there was no safety oversight, training or restrictions at the company.

Part of the fine was for breaching a prohibition notice set in place after the death.

Jamey Bowring

Jamey Lee Bowring was welding on top of the tank when it exploded Photo: Facebook

"It is hard to imagine a more flagrant breach of a prohibition notice than has occured in this case," Judge McIlraith said.

"That is occured in the context of a fatal accident is what lifts the assessment of culpability of this offending beyond that identified in any other case referred to me."

Auckland Council had also issued the business with an abatement notice the month before the fatal accident.

Of the $400,000 total, $110,000 was reparation that Judge McIlraith ordered Salter to pay Mr Bowring's family.

WorkSafe chief investigator Keith Stewart, who has worked as a safety inspector for three decades, said he had also worked on the Pike River explosion, and this case was in the same ballpark.

"The consequences of what could have happened is horrendous," he said.

"The large parts of the tank were blown into the Manukau area and we could have been looking at numerous fatalities."

Earlier this year during the substantive sentecning hearing, Mr Bowring's mother Sarah Ferguson described her son as cheeky and beautiful: "He was my world."

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