Union holds concerns about Yallourn safety

Bryce Eishold

A union organiser says workers at Yallourn Power Station are concerned a similar incident which killed a power station worker last week “could be repeated”.

Union concerns follow the death of Yallourn worker Graeme Edwards last week after a circuit breaker exploded on unit three while he was attending to maintenance on the generator.

CFMEU organiser Duncan MacGregor said union members were extremely saddened following the tragic event given the cause of the explosion was yet to be determined.

“There is a general fear, not knowing what caused the initial incident, is that it could be repeated,” Mr MacGregor told The Express.

“The circumstances around what happened are under investigation and naturally our members are obviously concerned as to what the root cause of the incident was.”

While WorkSafe is unable to provide comment on the investigation, Mr MacGregor said the union understood orders had been placed preventing the racking of circuit breakers in the power station.

“We’re satisfied at this point in time that the WorkSafe action will protect our members in the interim,” Mr MacGregor said.

“At this point in time, whilst mourning Graeme’s passing, we must also focus on the safety of all workers at Yallourn Power Station.”

EnergyAustralia head of Yallourn Mark Pearson said the company would assist WorkSafe in “any way we can”.

“It’s distressing for our people and in the circumstances it’s only natural for them to be cautious or concerned,” Mr Pearson said.

“That’s why it’s important that we and WorkSafe Victoria do a thorough investigation to find out the facts; what happened and why. That’s why we’re assisting WorkSafe any way we can, including by providing relevant records and access to our people.

“To be clear, our people will not operate the affected equipment until it is safe to do so – and they are confident it is safe to do so.”

Mr Pearson said a risk assessment was underway and safety controls were being reviewed following the incident, but at this time the company’s focus was “on doing all that we can for Graeme’s family and our people”.

“Our people remain our first priority and no one will have to return to operating impacted equipment until they’re ready,” he said.