APUA safety procedures to be updated in wake of Burma Road mishap

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The Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) will look at making changes to its safety procedures, following a worksite accident involving its employees on Burma Road.

Last week, a routine underground water pipe replacement went awry after the walls of an excavated trench caved in, covering the two workers inside with asphalt and dirt that had been dug up from the road to access the pipes.

The distressed men – one completely covered, the other buried up to his neck – were rescued after seven minutes and taken to the Mount St. John’s Medical Center. It is said that the second man became trapped after jumping in to assist his coworker, only to land himself in life-threatening difficulty.

Yesterday, APUA’s Public Relations Coordinator Sharifa George said new safety measures will be implemented to reduce the likelihood of another such incident.

“We are going to be making some adjustments in our safety procedures, whereby, if trenches are dug deeper than six feet the technicians will be required to wear helmets. We also want to sensitize Water Business Unit personnel to ensure that they can mitigate against the possibility of cave-ins,” she said.

She said medical experts at the hospital gave the injured employees a clean bill of health.

Nevertheless, she added, the workers will undergo another examination as they reportedly continue to feel pain.

“They reported to us that the doctors gave them a clean bill of health, but they were complaining of some pains as one of the workers was pressed against the wall of the trench as a result of asphalt and material from the road, and the other was covered with that material. [Therefore] they have been required to visit a second physician for further examination,” she said.

The APUA official explained the cause of the accident on OBSERVER-AM.

“In our investigation we found that the soil was saturated with water, as well as the soil was made of crushed limestone rock, a loose and soft material, that compromised the integrity of the soil itself,” she said, adding, “Burma Road had a history of being tricky working on it, but because the workers had experience they did not think anything of it . . . just another job on this road.”

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