Calm sought after contractor's death

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

UNION officials are calling for calm from local workers following the death of a contractor at Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) this week.

An investigation into the incident has been launched by Workplace Health and Safety after the worker fell 15 metres to his death on Sunday night.

Australian Workers Union (AWU) organiser Tony Beers said some workers walked off site at QAL following the incident, with the local community reeling.

'They walked off out of respect for him (the deceased worker),' Mr Beers said.

'They downed tools to go home and be with family, the importance of family really hit home after what happened.'

An obviously shaken Mr Beers said while local workers would be under- standably upset by what had happened, they should not do anything rash until the results of the inquiry were known.

'When things like this happen it's easy for emotions to take over and for people to walk off jobs,' Mr Beers said.

'But I would say this to our members, they should instead stay at work, wait for the investigation and donate that money to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

'This investigation will take its course and the truth will come out.

The worker was a member of the AWU, with Mr Beers saying the death reached beyond the QAL workplace.

'The whole of the community is reeling,' Mr Beers said.

'This is absolutely terrible and just shouldn't happen.'

He said the incident was made worse because it was the first industrial death in the region since the 1990s.

He also took the opportunity to stress the rights of workers in refusing to carry out work they were not comfortable doing. "The AWU cannot stress enough that safety cannot and will not be compromised because this is the result,' Mr Beers said.

He also said that the AWU had been instrumental in helping implement a number of safety initiatives in local industry and would co-operate fully in finding the cause of this incident.

A Workplace Health and Safety spokesperson confirmed an investigation was taking place, but would not provide further comment.

A QAL statement at the time of the incident said the worker was employed by Transpacific Industrial Solutions.

He fell through the hatch of an off-line red mud settling tank while performing routine hydroblasting. No one else was injured in the incident, and affected employees are undergoing counselling. It is not known how long the investigation into the incident will take.



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