Deadly explosion: Blast victim was meant to be home sick

NZ Herald

A 24-YEAR-OLD killed in an explosion in New Zealand on Tuesday was meant to be home sick when the 100,000-litre tank he was welding detonated.

Instead of going to his regular labouring job at GT Engineering, Jamey Lee Bowring helped out his mother's partner, Trevor Ackers, who owns car welding company RaceWorks, at Salters Cartage fuel recycling site in Wiri.

Instead of going to his regular labouring job, Jamey Lee Bowring helped out his mother's partner, Trevor Ackers, who owns car welding company RaceWorks, at Salters Cartage fuel recycling site in Wiri.

The Herald understands Ron Salter is a race car fan and had employed Mr Ackers' Huntly-based RaceWorks to undertake some maintenance on the tanks, which are part of the company's fuel recovery plant.

Mr Salter said Mr Bowring began some "unauthorised welding" at the top of the tank when it exploded at 1.36pm on Tuesday - sending him flying through the air.

Debris was also strewn, with one large piece of sheet metal crushing the roof of a car.

A management spokesman at GT Engineering confirmed Mr Bowring called in sick on Tuesday.

"He was a very respected worker," he said.

The business closed its doors yesterday as a mark of respect to Mr Bowring and everyone was "absolutely gutted".

A source told the Herald Mr Bowring was actually employed by a different labouring company and had called in sick on Tuesday.

"He was meant to be at home and now he is dead - he should never have been there."

The source said Mr Ackers' company had been working on the site for a number of months as Mr Salter prepared it for sale.

It was understood Mr Bowring was a capable labourer and admired for his work ethic and good nature.

However, he was not trained to work on large-scale industrial jobs.

RaceWorks completes "race car fabrication", including aluminium and stainless steel welding, rust repairs and general engineering, and other car-specific fabrication.

Mr Salter races a sprint car, built by RaceWorks, at Western Springs.

The explosion is being investigated by WorkSafeNZ, and the agency would not give any details.

Senior welding engineer for the NZ Welding Centre Alan McClintock said all welding work must abide by standards and statutory regulations.

Contractors and employers were required to fill out a number of forms that outlined risk assessments and safety plans and must be supervised.

Identifying hazards - especially flammable gases - was part of that process.

"If implemented properly, welding safety procedures will provide a sufficient safety margin to prevent welding-related accidents from occurring," Mr McClintock said.

Mr Bowring would also have been required to wear a safety harness while on top of the tank.

Workers from nearby businesses have told the Herald of multiple reports they have made to Auckland Council about the strong stench of gas and fumes from the site.

The Fire Service and Vector both confirmed they had attended multiple callouts to the site.

Auckland Council yesterday said an abatement notice was issued to Salters Cartage in August "for concerns with certain ducting and internal processes".

"Salters Cartage was asked to provide an action plan to remedy issues by the end of September."

However, there was no evidence to suggest the issues were related to Tuesday's blast.

- NZ Herald

Topics:  blast explosion new zealand

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