Piling subcontractor fined $40,000 after explosion on Western Downs solar farm


Dalby Magistrates Court in Queensland has fined an unnamed piling subcontractor for failing its health and safety duty while carrying out piling work at the 162 MW (AC) Columboola Solar Farm,* owned by South Korean-based Hana Financial Investment and located in the Western Downs region.

The aerosol can explosion which caused a metal bar to strike a worker occurred between May 1 and July 16, 2021, according to Queensland court documents.

The subcontracted company pled guilty and reportedly cooperated with the courts, leading to a diminished fine of $40,000 and and no conviction being recorded. Court documents also note the defendant had “suffered a downturn in work in the time since 2021” and as such had a limited capacity to pay.

In terms of the incident itself, the Queensland government’s Office of Work Health and Safety said: “one of the defendant’s workers was struck by a 4.7-kilogram metal bar while working on a piling rig at the solar farm. The metal bar was propelled into the worker after 12 Dulux galvanised aerosol cans exploded while they were stored inside a toolbox which was positioned on the same piling rig.”

Neither the worker struck by the metal bar, nor three other workers nearby, were injured by the explosion. 

However, the presiding Magistrate, Magistrate Bice, found the defendant should have known about the explosion risk from aerosol cans exposed to heat and trained its workers accordingly.

The subcontractor was also ordered to pay $1,500 in professional costs and $101.40 in fees.

*This article was amended on December 6, 2023 to correct the location of the incident. The original article stated the incident took place at Western Downs solar farm. In fact, court documents referred to Western Downs only as the district of the incident.

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