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Chairman of the Energy Chamber Dwight Mahabir speaks with Newsday during the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain on Tuesday. - AYANNA KINSALE
Chairman of the Energy Chamber Dwight Mahabir speaks with Newsday during the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain on Tuesday. – AYANNA KINSALE

Energy Chamber chairman Dwight Mahabir called for the energy industry to make a renewed commitment to keeping safety a main priority.

He spoke in light of the deaths of four men – Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Rishi Nagassar and Yusuf Henry – in the Paria drowning incident in February.

“If it is not safe to do, then don’t do it,” he said. “As an industry our commitment must be to ensure that a proper investigation is completed and that we learned the lessons to ensure that a proper investigation is completed and that we learned the lessons necessary to ensure that this never happens again.”

He was giving the opening address of the Energy Chamber’s three-day energy conference, which kicked off at the Hyatt Regency on Tuesday.

After his address Mahabir told Newsday that the energy industry has been able to maintain a world-class standard when it came to occupational health and safety, but there was still room for improvement.

“When you look at the activities that take place in the industry – extremely heavy lifts, confined space entry, the type of gasses and toxins and hostile environments that we work in…we do it safely.”

He said there is an additional complexity in maintaining occupational health and safety when dealing with transient workers who go into different industries that have to deal with different cultures.

“You have transit workers who, when you have major construction in the energy sector, you would find…moving between construction and maintenance projects. You would have guys that would go and work a taxi in between. You would have people going into the general construction industry and the civil trades, and it is a different type of culture that you have to work with (when dealing with health and safety).”

He said the accident on Paria in February showed there were major gaps in the processes that led to the deaths of four men and severe injury to a fifth, and hoped the investigation would find those gaps.

On February 25 Paria Fuel Trading outlined in a release the incident involving private contractors LMCS Ltd during underwater maintenance in Pointe-a-Pierre.

On February 26 Energy Minister Stuart Young visited the company and was given an update on the search efforts but on the night of February 27 Paria chairman Newman George said the divers were presumed dead.

On February 28 three of the four men’s bodies were found. The fourth body was found on March 3.

A commission of enquiry is to investigate the incident.