One of the photos of the diving team before tragedy struck. L to R: Christopher Boodram (only diver to survive), Kazim Ali Jr, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Fyzal Kurban.

RADHICA DE SILVA

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The qualifications and expertise of people working in Paria’s Maintenance Area must be reviewed when the Commission of Enquiry begins its work on the deaths of four divers on February 25.

So said the president of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union, Pointe-a-Pierre Branch, Christopher Jackman as he expressed support for the team appointed which includes Justice Cecil Dennis Morrison (OJ, CD, QC), sub-sea specialist Gregory Wilson and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj (SC) who will be the lead counsel.

Jackman said he believed the Commission of Enquiry will be thorough but felt it will lengthen the process of justice for the families.

He said the recommendations that will be made after the Commission of Enquiry is completed should be implemented as soon as possible to prevent further injuries and deaths of workers.

” The real challenge at Paria Fuel Trading now is the lack of marine experienced maintenance supervisors and this is something that must be addressed,” Jackman said.

He explained that since Petrotrin closed in 2018, many HSE positions have been filled by contract workers. Before the deaths of the divers – Rishi Nagassar, Kazim Ali Jr, Yusuf Henry and Fyzal Kurban- two other major accidents occurred.

The first was a fiery explosion at Berth No 2 which threw workers into the sea last year and an accident at LMCS’s fabrication yard in which a worker lost his leg last July.

During the Berth N0 2 explosion, Rishi Nagassar was part of the rescue teams and had risked his life to save others, Jackman revealed.

He said to eliminate further incidents, it was important for the Commission of Enquiry to probe not just the details of the divers’ tragic demise, but also the competence of HSE and Maintenance workers, their level of experience and their technical competencies.

” One of the current challenges they face in Paria is the lack of experience of the persons that they would have hired within the maintenance area. The persons hired were not necessarily employed there during Petrotrin so they may not have the ability to identify all the hazards and the risks that could be connected to these technical jobs,” Jackman explained.

He noted, “The selection of persons there would be brought into account. At the end of the day if we don’t have persons experienced to identify the hazards, then we cannot expect that the hazards would be identified. I suspect that is the root cause of this incident involving the divers.”

He agreed that there should be a review of competence in the Maintenance area.

“This doesn’t mean that the persons there are unable to do the functions but it will be of benefit to ensure we have a certain level of experience within the groups that in the event the person doesn’t know they can consult with someone who has the experience,” Jackman added.

Questions were sent to Paria requesting whether the company will be doing an audit of skills and competencies in the Maintenance area but there has been no response as yet.