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Three in court over deaths, injuries at Dubai steel factory

Salam Al Amir

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DUBAI// Two workers died and five more were injured when they were splashed with molten steel from a furnace at a Jebel Ali steel factory, a court was told today.

SH, 47, MA, 41, and DK, 42, all from India, have been charged with causing the deaths and injuries to the workers by failing to provide the victims with safety equipment while working at the factory.   

They denied the charges when they appeared in the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours.

Prosecutors said the defendants caused the deaths of Indian nationals FP, 28, and PD, 30 by allowing them to work in a danger zone without ensuring that they wore their safety suits and without providing them with the proper supervision.

They also face charges of causing injuries to SN, 47, SS, 22, AJ, 37, RS, 38, and SK, 24, who were working with the deceased on the day of the incident but miraculously escaped death by being further from the furnace door.

Following the accident on November 8 last year, the factory’s manager signed an undertaking to introduce more safety procedures and to install curtain walls around each furnace to confine accidents.

Defendant DK, a furnace operator, said that the furnace operated 24 hours a day. Around 1am on the day of the incident the workers were loading the furnace as others cleaned the area surrounding it.

He said a piece of steel flew in the air and fell into the furnace causing the molten steel to splash onto the victims.

“I’m not guilty, what happened was merely an accident,” said DK.

SH also told prosecutors that while a crane driver was pouring metal scrap into the furnace, the molten steel splashed onto the workers. About 200kg of steel scrap was loaded into the furnace in every operation.

The men were rushed to Rashid Hospital where two died and the rest suffered burns of between 8 and 10 per cent to their heads, arms, abdomens, backs, chests, and feet. The medical report in the case file said the burns to the injured men were of first and second-degrees and caused no permanent disability.

The cause of the accident was not identified in records but the injured workers attributed it to extreme pressure and an overload in the furnace.

The hearing will continue next month.

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