An aerial shot of the Australia Pacific LNG facility on Curtis Island.
An aerial shot of the Australia Pacific LNG facility on Curtis Island.

CQ worker files a claim for $2.6m after spinal injury

WHEN NICHOLAS Wass climbed a ladder at work, he didn't know it would ultimately change his life forever.

Mr Wass, of Tannum Sands, now 49, has filed a claim for more than $2.6 million for a workplace accident that happened more than two years ago.

The documents were filed in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton on December 9, 2019, by Maurice Blackburn Rockhampton, against UGL Operations and Maintenance Services Pty Limited and Conocophillips Australia Pty Ltd.

Mr Wass was employed by UGL Operations to do maintenance and rigging work and crane operations at the APLNG Plant at Curtis Island.

Conocophillips was the employer of a supervisor and UGL conducted maintenance work for Conocophillips.

The court documents allege the accident happened on or about March 25, 2017, when a Conocophillips employed supervisor instructed Mr Wass and another colleague to manually transport filter ­cartridges up a fixed access ladder onto the SLO deck.

It is alleged Mr Wass climbed the ladder and the colleague was to pass the filters to him.

The fixed access ladder was allegedly about 50cm wide, 2.7m high and at an angle of about 60 degrees.

Mr Wass alleges perpendicular to the ladder was a large l-shaped beam, about 2m high and 1m back from the ladder. Mr Wass alleges protruding from this beam was a large steel electrical bracket, 3mm thick and shaped in a hollow bar.

Mr Wass claims in court documents he had not previously accessed the SLO filter cartridge deck.

It is further claimed Mr Wass climbed the ladder, while wearing a hard hat, going up three to four rungs, when his hard hat allegedly came into contact with the end of the steel bracket, which he had not previously seen and was directly behind and above him.

As a result, Mr Wass claims he suffered a soft tissue injury to the cervical spine.

The documents allege the injuries were caused by the negligence of both companies, and/or the breach of contract by UGL Operations.

It is claimed both companies failed to carry out an inspection of the ladder for hazards, failed to give adequate instructions as to the safe system for moving the cartridges and failed to advise Mr Wass of the steel bracket.

For damages for personal injuries, loss and other damages occasioned by the alleged negligence, Mr Wass is suing both companies for a total of $2,626,304.32.

This amount has been split between the two defendants.

UGL Operations is being sued for $1,218,912.61,

This includes, among other damages, a past economic loss of $196,577.04, with 86 weeks of $2227.64 per week.

There is also a future economic loss of $1500 per week for 19 years of $852,720.

Future superannuation loss is $93,799.20 and past ­superannuation is $18,199.82.

Conocophillips Australia is being sued for $1,407.391.71.

This includes the past and future economic and superannuation losses along with general damages of $60,000, past special damages of $15,935.85, past care and assistance of $50,000 and future care and assistance of $100,000, among other damages.

It is claimed both Conocophillips Australia and UGL Operations had a duty to ­provide and maintain a work environment without risk to the health and safety of Mr Wass and failed to provide safe systems of work.

It is claimed Conocophillips Australia had a duty to take all reasonable care to avoid exposing Mr Wass to risk of injury while he was carrying out work for UGL Operations and at the APLNG Plant.

No defence has yet been filed. All parties were contacted for comment.

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