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Case study: $6.7m awarded to three workers harmed in explosion

As reported in the Canberra Times on Thursday 2 October 2014, Cosmetic giant Revlon and the ACT government agreed to pay Mr Abraham Sumners and two other men compensation worth a cumulative $6.7 million over the blast at a medical waste disposal facility in 2009.

The mothers of two of the men also received six-figure payouts each as carers. The defendants will pay costs in addition to compensation, taking the total payout to about $8 million.

The matter officially settled by consent in the ACT Supreme Court on Thursday 2 October 2014.

Explosion at SteriHealth

The three workers received burns to their faces, hands and bodies when aerosol cans exploded in a machine at the SteriHealth facility on December 15, 2009.

It was 24-year-old Mr Sumners' first day on the project, and the other men were all electrical contractors.

They had all spent the morning moving materials, such as electrical cable, through a tunnel connecting the SteriHealth building to the neighbouring Capital Linen Services premises.

Mr Sumners told the paper they were leaving for lunch when he noticed a strong smell of perfume. He commented to a colleague, who had just replied, when they were hit by a giant fireball.

Blinded and enveloped in intense heat, they ran from the building to a maintenance shed, where they crowded under showers until paramedics arrived.

The court heard the blast had been caused when pressurised aerosol cans – cosmetic waste from Revlon's Hume premises – were shredded by an industrial machine, releasing a highly flammable vapour.

The chemicals exploded, wounding the three men. The intensity of the blast and fire also damaged a window, melted a tarpaulin and burnt nearby bales of hessian.

Shine Lawyers solicitor Irena Pechanats said the size of the payout had been due to the fact the trio were contractors.

You can read more by clicking through to the Canberra Times article.


Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: August 3, 2017.

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