Posted on 04 May 2018
As Australians mark 2018 World Day for Safety and Health and Workers’ Memorial Day this Saturday 28 April, Robert Smith is tragically reminded of his friend and colleague who was needlessly killed at work.
In December 2011, the apprentice rushed to the aid of his 26-year-old colleague Andrew (whose real name will not be revealed), who was hit and later killed after his head was struck by a gantry at a Campbellfield work site.
Trained as an Engine Reconditioner and Machinist, Mr Smith, who now lives with family in Tarneit, has since been unable to return to work due to ongoing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.
He has called on Slater and Gordon to help support him through the legal process.
“I remember that day so clearly, I heard a scream and then saw him on the floor with blood coming out of his head,” Mr Smith said. “It was awful, we tried to do whatever we could to stop the bleeding before the ambulance arrived, but it wasn’t enough.
“We were all sent home and I remember breaking down on the train home. Once the incident came on the news that night, I absolutely lost it.”
The now 26-year-old said he now suffers from a range of symptoms that have prevented him from returning to work.
“Honestly, life has been hell, sleep is almost nonexistent and if I do sleep I have nightmares,” he said. “I did try to return to work for a bit, but it didn’t go well, and now my doctors have essentially told me I am not fit to go back.
“I’ve been in and out of hospital, it’s been an extremely slow process but I am really lucky to have a wonderful family and friends who have given me great support because who knows where I could have been?”
In light of 2018 World Day for Safety and Health and Workers’ Memorial Day, Mr Smith called on employers to ensure they were providing the safest possible workplace. He also urged employees to step up and say something if they think their workplace is unsafe.
“Don’t be scared to say something because it could mean the difference between life and death, which can affect more people that you might think,” Mr Smith said.
Senior Slater and Gordon Workers Compensation Lawyer Meghan Hoare said the impact of an accident such as this does not only impact the person injured or killed, but also causes a ripple effect on their loved ones and colleagues.
“Robert’s horrific experience is an awful way to highlight the need for employers to take every single step to ensure safety in their workplaces,” Ms Hoare said. “With so much that is now known about the need for safe workplaces, it is astounding to hear that these type of incidents can still happen.”
World Day for Safety and Health and Workers’ Memorial Day aims to promote safety and health in the workplace and to honour those who have died from work-related injury or illness, with this year’s initiative focusing on young workers like Mr Smith.
Young workers have an increased risk of workplace injury due to their lack of experience, maturity and awareness of Workplace Health and Safety responsibilities.
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