Safety supervisor denies causing worker’s death in Jebel Ali Port chemical explosion

At Dubai court, safety supervisor denies being responsible for death of Indian worker, who sustained third-degree burns to 80 per cent of his body.

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DUBAI // A safety supervisor has denied causing the death of a worker after a drop of paint fell from the roof of an unventilated chemicals tank on to a light bulb, leading to a powerful explosion.

The blast caused third-degree burns to 80 per cent of Reji Thomas’s body. He died seven months later.

Prosecutors said that in the early hours of January 4 last year Thomas, 47, was assigned to work at a site in Jebel Ali Port and was put inside the chemicals tank.

About two hours later the paint fell on to a halogen bulb, causing the explosion.

Thomas was found unconscious on the floor of the tank and was rushed to hospital. He remained there for seven months, unable to talk to police before he died.

“I am not guilty,” the Sri Lankan supervisor told prosecutors. “I didn’t cause his death.” .

He said the deceased had been working with him since 2006 and, on the day of the incident, colleagues heard a large explosion coming from the tank where he was working.

“They saw fumes and smoke coming from the opening of the tank and knew that a fire had happened, but it was put out through the automated fire system. Then they called for help,” the defendant said.

“He was wearing his gear and carrying his oxygen cylinder on his back at the time.”

A Dubai Municipality expert had told the court that Thomas had not been wearing safety gear at the time.

A verdict is expected at the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours on May 15.