Push For Remote-area Phones
Release date: 20/01/2015
The Transport Workers Union wants employers to provide all workers travelling to remote areas with a satellite phone and emergency positioning beacon, saying lessons have not been learnt from past tragedies.
Gabrielle Knowles and Tayissa Barone, The West Australian, 20 January 2015
Found dead: Clayton Miller. Picture: Supplied
Father Clayton Miller was found dead on a remote Mid West roadside on Friday after he left his bogged truck and walked about 20km in 46C looking for help.
An investigation is under way into what safety equipment the 39-year-old had for the trip to a remote station north-west of Meekatharra to deliver water tanks for Tanks West.
But The West Australian understands he did not have access to a satellite phone, EPIRB or other GPS tracking equipment.
His devastated family and friends yesterday paid tribute to him as a great father, partner, family man and "hardworking, good Aussie bloke".
"He was easygoing, friendly and always up for a good laugh and banter with friends," they said in a statement to Seven News. "His tragic passing is gut-wrenching to all who knew him and loved him.
"He will be greatly missed and always loved by all of us."
TWU WA assistant secretary Paul Aslan said current laws that required companies to supply workers who operated alone with an "up-to-date" means of communication in case of an emergency were too ambiguous.
Mr Aslan said Mr Miller's death again raised concerns about the lack of safety equipment and training for drivers, almost four years after the death of truck driver Anthony John Bradanovich in similar circumstances near Wiluna.
A coronial inquest found the 35-year-old died of exertional heat stroke after walking more than 30km for help when his prime mover became bogged on the unsealed Gunbarrel Highway in January 2011.
Coroner Kevin Tavener found the transport company Mr Bradanovich worked for failed to provide him with enough information about emergency breakdown procedures or site-specific radio channels.
He suggested drivers be given a personal GPS locator beacon, maps and ample drinking water.
After the coronial inquiry, WorkSafe inspectors visited more than 100 commercial transport companies after first warning them of their requirements.
They issued 96 improvement notices, including 24 for failing to ensure there was a means of communicating with isolated employees.
Having only a mobile phone on a journey similar to the one Mr Miller took would not be considered sufficient.
Tanks West did not comment on Mr Miller's death yesterday.
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