McClashie: OSHA initiated court action on Paria tragedy

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The four divers who died in an accident at Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd’s Pointe-a-Pierre facility in February 2022. From left: Kazim Ali Jnr, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Fyzal Kurban. –

LABOUR Minister Stephen McClashie says the Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OSHA) has initiated legal proceedings in the San Fernando Magistrates Court with respect to safety and health offences which may have been committed in the February 25, 2022 diving tragedy at Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd’s facilities at Pointe-a-Pierre.

He made this statement in the Senate on Monday.

Christopher Boodram, Kazim Ali Jnr, Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry and Rishi Nagassar were repairing a 30-inch pipeline when they were sucked in.

Only Boodram was able to get out. The others remained trapped inside. Their bodies were removed from the pipeline days later.

McClashie said the proceedings started in the San Fernando Magistrates Court on April 2.

He told senators the Occupational Safety and Health Act, at section 83 (1), empowers OSHA to initiate proceedings against industrial establishments for safety and health offences before the Industrial Court.

That section states, “Where a person contravenes a provision of this act or any Regulations made thereunder or fails to comply with any duty, prohibition, restriction, instruction or directive issued under this act or any such Regulations, he commits a safety and health offence and is subject to the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court unless otherwise specified.”

Against this background, McClashie said after an in-depth investigation by OSHA into the Paria tragedy, the agency “initiated legal proceedings for safety and health offences at the Industrial Court on December 13, 2023.”

He added, “These legal proceedings were initiated prior to the publication of the report of the CoE on the Paria diving tragedy which was laid in Parliament on January 19, 2024 and are independent of the findings of that report.”

McClashie said section 91 of the act, outlines the procedure for prosecution for such safety and health offences, with respect to commissions of enquiry (CoEs)

Section 91 (2) states, “Where, with respect to or in consequence of any accident in an industrial establishment, a report is made by a CoE or a coroner’s inquest is held, and it appears from the report or from the proceedings at the inquest that this act was not complied with at or before the time of the accident, summary proceedings against the person liable to be proceeded against in respect of such non-compliance may be commenced at any time within six months after the making of the report or the conclusion of the inquest.”

He said based on this, “proceedings have commenced in the San Fernando Magistrates Court as of April 2.”