Tanks West employee Clayton Miller was found dead on a remote Mid-West roadside in February after he left his bogged truck and walked about 20km in 46C heat seeking help.
The only means of communication Clayton had with him was a mobile phone and we all know how ineffective they are in remote areas.
We understand he did not have access to a satellite phone, EPIRB or other GPS tracking equipment.
There is no doubt that had his employer provided him with these emergency devices he would still be alive today.
In my view current laws that require companies to supply workers who operate alone with an “up-to-date” means of communication in case of an emergency are inadequate.
Clayton’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 back then found the 35-year-old died of exertional heatstroke after walking more than 30km for help when his prime mover became bogged on the unsealed Gunbarrel Highway in January 2011.
The coroner found Anthony’s employer 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.
The TWU made a submission to the inquest and I argued in the coroner’s court for satellite phones. Unfortunately, the coroner was not prepared to go that far.
Worksafe also pulled up short of making satellite phones and/or EPERBS compulsory
took a phone call from Clayton’s sister who had travelled from Canada for her brothers funeral and passed on the Union’s condolences and our great regret concerning the unnecessary death of her brother.
Clayton, was not a TWU member, but was described as great father, partner, family man and “hardworking, good Aussie bloke”.
Like me, Mr Miller’s family also believes he would still be alive if he had the technology to call for help.
After the death of Tony Bradanavich four years ago Worksafe says it visited more than 100 transport companies and warned them of their requirements.
They issued 96 improvement notices,including 24 for failing to ensure there was a means of communicating with isolated employees.
That activity may sound impressive but clearly there are still transport firms out there who are either ignorant of their requirements or they are ignoring them.
Perhaps it is time grieving families considered legal action against employers for breach of their duty of care.
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