Coroner: Worker’s water jet death a result of workplace safety failures

A NSW worker, who was killed in May 2008 when a high-pressure water jet hit him in the chest as he was cleaning a sediment pit at Port Kembla, was a victim of numerous workplace safety failings by his employer, according to a coroner.

Illawarra Mercury reported that Wollongong Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday the 39-year-old victim’s death was a result of multiple workplace safety failings. Deputy State Coroner Ian guy said that the lack of proper equipment, inadequate training of supervisors, and the absence of risk assessment all led to the worker’s tragic death.

The high-pressure jet water stream which is said to be strong enough to break up concrete, struck the victim in the chest resulting to fatal injuries to his heart and lungs.

“(The victim) dropped the lance and put his hands to his side and chest and sat down,” said Magistrate Guy.

“Within minutes he was losing consciousness and died at the scene.”

The coroner found out that the hose used by the victim did not have handles as well as sufficient means of control as recommended by the Australian Safety Standard.

The Australian Safety Standard’s recommendation of having two methods of shutting off water was not followed. It was found that the worker relied on a colleague using a pedal device to stop the water in case of an accident.

It was also revealed that supervisors were not given proper training in the types of force from water pressures using different hoses and nozzles. The company also failed to conduct risk assessment for the task the victim and his colleagues were carrying out.

The company pleaded guilty last year in the Industrial Court of NSW to workplace health and safety breaches and was fined $ 130,000.


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