DOCOL to cover medical expenses for burnt workers

The Demerara Oxygen Company Limited (DOCOL) has promised to take care of the medical expenses of three employees who were injured during an explosion on Friday, following a meeting with their families.

The company, this newspaper learnt from a relative present at the meeting, also handed over the men’s wages that they had earned up to the date of the incident. It has also promised to give the families hampers later this week.

Heera Persaud, 19; and Rabindranauth Ramdhani, 22, both of Leonora, West Coast Demerara and Mirvel Richards, 19, of Bagotville, West Bank Demerara were admitted to the St Joseph Mercy Hospital on Friday. Reports so far have indicated that the three men were fetching a leaking cylinder of gas when it exploded. Persaud and Ramdhani suffered severe burns to the face, arms, knees, abdomen and other parts of the body. Richards also suffered burns to the face, arms and back.

Persaud and Ramdhani were admitted to the High Dependency Unit and Richards to the Male Surgical Ward. They remained hospitalized yesterday.
Since the incident, DOCOL has not issued a statement. Several efforts made to contact relevant officials at the company for a comment have been futile. Although this newspaper understands that the company has promised to cover the medical expenses it is still unclear to what extent.

The injured men’s relatives, when questioned about this, could not say whether DOCOL would be undertaking the expenses incurred at St Joseph Mercy or whether the company has pledged to take on future medical expenses as well.

Meanwhile, no mention was made of further compensation to the men. On Sunday, Rita Persaud and Indrapattie Ramdhani had said that their sons were the main sources of income for their homes. They had also noted that after the men are released from hospital, they will not be able to work for some time.
However, when approached by Stabroek News for a comment yesterday, the women declined to speak about the meeting. They only said that they were satisfied with what the company was offering and were willing to work along with them.

The men, their relatives also said, have since undergone surgery. The mothers of Persaud and Ramdhani said that the men are improving and they are satisfied with what DOCOL has offered. The company, according to them, has been very cooperative and is offering them much support.

However, Richards’ mother told this newspaper via telephone yesterday that she believes more can be done to help her son. Initially, the woman said, she was being told that her son did not sustain serious burns. However, when she visited him yesterday, she said, the top layer of the skin on his face had been peeled away.

“This is the kinda thing that will not heal neatly and I don’t know what will happen to my son’s face,” the woman said. “You know your face is your beauty and I want this company to send these boys to a better hospital in Trinidad or something where they will be able to get advanced medical care.”

The woman said that while she has been advised not to speak about the proceedings of the meeting with DOCOL, she will make sure that her son is given the best care. Just over $7,000 was handed over to her yesterday, she said; this was the amount her son had earned up to the date of the incident. There has been no mention of whether the company will continue to pay the men a percentage of their wages until they are able to work again.

Neither Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir nor Chief Labour Officer Yoganand Persaud could be reached for comment on the matter yesterday.

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