Still affected: Aaron Jairam outside the San Fernando High Court last Wednesday. —Photo: TREVOR WATSON

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Burn victim awarded $300,000 for injuries

By By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

AARON JAIRAM was 21 years old when he was burnt about his body following an explosion while working at a crude oil tank.

In passing judgment last Wednesday Justice Vasheist Kokaram said “the more pro-active companies and industries are in implementing an effective and law compliant health and safety management system, the less will be the need for litigation such as this”.

Jairam will be awarded $300,000 for the injuries he sustained.

Kokaram found that Trincan Oil Ltd, the company Jairam worked with under a contract employment, was 80 per cent liable for Jairam’s injury.

Vincent Rampersad and Sons Ltd – the company contracted by Trincan to perform the job – was found to be 20 per cent liable.

A third named defendant was found to be innocent in the matter.

While Jairam, who is now 26 years old, told reporters he was satisfied with the quantity of money he will receive, he said he still experiences effects from the injuries he sustained in 2007.

Jairam said he regularly has to visit the clinic.

He suffers panic attacks since the incident and also experiences pain and itching from his wounds which have left him scarred.

Six years ago he aspired to become an electrical engineer.

But now Jairam said he is studying to become a preacher.

 “I’m trying to comfort my mind,” he said Wednesday.

He plans to get married soon. 

His fiance attended the court matter.

Kokaram, before the San Fernando High Court, outlined the details of the incident.

He said around 6 p.m. on September 18, 2007 there was an explosion at a crude oil tank in Morne Diablo, Quinam.

The tank which was 30 feet tall and could hold 15,000 barrels of oil was used to store and sell oil to Petrotrin.

The day before the explosion, Petrotrin decided to stop future sales from Trincan until sediments at the bottom of the tank were removed.

Jairam was an electrical trainee, an unskilled labourer with no formal training in the handling or detection of hazardous areas or executing work in an unsafe zone.

He had begun his employment with Trincan about two months prior to the incident. 

Jairam had not been supplied with fire resistant clothing on the job that day.

On direction from his superiors at the job site, he was positioning a heated floodlight near the tank’s open manway when it ignited flammable gases. Jairam was engulfed in a ball of fire.

His arms were burnt and his face, legs and arms turned black. 

His lips were also burnt.

He ran for 300 feet and jumped over a five-foot wall. The fire lasted ten minutes.

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