Ex-wife tells trial that workplace accident changed man

DAY two of the civil trial of a Gladstone man who was burned by an industrial-grade chemical at his workplace continued yesterday with his ex-wife breaking down in tears in the witness box.

Paul Kennedy is seeking damages from Queensland Alumina Limited after he was injured in his role as an alumina producer at the Gladstone-based company in January 2012.

Mr Kennedy's ex-wife Sarah Poggi, 28, told the trial at Rockhampton Supreme Court her ex-husband, 29, became "a different person" after the accident in which his foot and ankle were burned.

She told the court he was "very sensitive (about his injuries) and "deflects it or doesn't want to talk about it".

"He's like a person I've never seen before, it wasn't him anymore," Ms Poggi told the court.

Barrister for Queensland Alumina Limited Steven Deaves called on Mr Kennedy's colleague Tony Rigby to give evidence about the night he was injured.

Mr Rigby told the court he had been "30 to 40 feet" away from Mr Kennedy when the caustic solution sprayed from a pipe and melted through his boot.

The court heard that Mr Kennedy used a ratchet to turn a valve on the pipe from open to closed.

However, scale build-up on the pipe and the size of the ratchet had obscured his view of the label on the valve, which was already in the closed position.

"It wasn't a very good valve to regulate.

"It didn't line up perfectly, so it was a bit of an 'iffy' valve in that way," Mr Rigby said.

Day one of the trial heard Mr Kennedy told his colleague a small amount of caustic solution was leaking from the pipe after he loosened three to four bolts.

My Rigby said he didn't recall telling Mr Kennedy to, "Let it go over smoko".

Mr Rigby, a more experienced alumina producer, said he usually worked with Mr Kennedy.

The trial will continue today with two doctors to be called as witnesses for the plaintiff.

Topics:  court gladstone rockhampton supreme court workplace injury

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