Safety at work continues to be a serious problem in Australia, which calls on a concerted and united effort to make it a scourge of the past. It shouldn’t be the case in this day and age, that the toll in those killed and injured surpasses the road toll. The Victorian government is doing the right thing, in shifting towards supporting an industrial manslaughter law. The Liberal and National parties have not yet come on board. Most accidents are the result of unsafe workplaces, and it is wrong to pretend that they are accidents. In these circumstances, the employer is responsible and should be held to account. Failure to do so, only encourages the continuation of unsafe workplaces. Nothing brings the reality of tragedy more sharply than the human story. David Rickets explains what happened in 2015 to his 26-year old son Ron. This is his story.
My son Ron was an athlete who just a few years prior was at the peak of his sport of lacrosse in the hope of representing his country one day.
He was electrocuted at work and died, just shy of his 26th birthday.
On 12 November 2015, about mid-morning I got a phone call from my youngest son, Darren. He said, “I think Ron’s had an accident.”
I asked where and when, but he had no detail and said he would call back. He did and said, “it sounds serious, apparently they are trying to revive him.” Another couple of calls to find out where and I was on my way. I immediately thought the worst and as I left my colleagues I said, I think my son has died.
My diary note on that day says simply, “I attended the site and was informed by police that Ronald had died.”
Darren and I waited on site for more than three hours to see our son and brother. He was still lying on the roof. He looked so peaceful in the afternoon sun, big and strong, as though asleep. We both lay down next to him and gave him a hug and kiss and said goodbye.
I am no longer the same person that I was, my family torn apart by grief but somehow still together. This needless and preventable loss of life has also affected all our extended family and friends, still grieving to this day.
This is why we need industrial manslaughter laws.
We need these laws so it’s no longer just a cost of doing business for companies to allow unsafe work practices to continue.
They need to be held to account and not be able walk away with a pithy fine after forever changing the lives of the many families connected to this one life.
David is asking e everyone to sign the petition at Megaphone, calling on the Victorian opposition to support an industrial manslaughter slaughter law.