Pontoon explosion pitches Harbour bridge worker into river

A Demerara Harbour Bridge Company (DHBC) worker was on Monday morning pitched into the river by a small explosion, which occurred while he was welding on a pontoon.

The injured employee, Roman Pollard, suffered an injury to one of his feet and is now at home recuperating.

General Manager of the DHBC Rawlston Adams yesterday explained that Pollard was welding when the explosion on the pontoon occurred. As a result of the explosion, Pollard was pitched into the river.

The accident occurred sometime after 9 am.

Adams related that the pontoon was returned to the company on Sunday after it had undergone rehabilitation. The rehabilitation works entailed cleaning and painting.

“They received some instructions to re-install the pontoon and install the hinges. To install the hinges we had to do some work… The guy started the welding without removing the hatches. So the gas and stuff that was built up in the pontoon caused a small explosion and he was thrown overboard,” he related to this newspaper.

After being thrown overboard, Pollard was picked by his colleagues and rushed to a hospital.

Adams yesterday said that the company normally follows a standard procedure when re-installing pontoons and he could not fathom what had happened as the workers are experienced and have done reinstallations on several occasions.

“At the bridge, the standard is once we have rehabilitated a pontoon and we are re-installing we take off the cover off and allow it to be [ventilated],” he stated, while explaining that this is necessary because “these materials are flammable after painting.” 

At the time of the accident, the senior engineers, who were in a meeting, rushed to the scene after being alerted.  

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