Last week a 48-year-0ld glazier, Darin Johnson, died after he fell 18 metres from an aerial work platform (AWP) in Melbourne Australia. Johnson’s death attracted more media attention than other workplace fatalities because of where he died.
The Australian newspaper has been running a political campaign against the Labour government over its stimulus package of school facilities construction. Johnson died on a primary school construction site.
The Australian emphasised the location of the death and chose to emphasise union comments that builders in the school building program cut costs. There is no indication that a reduction in costs, if that occurred at this work site, was relevant to Johnson’s death. In fact the same newspaper article provides a better indication of a contribution to the incident.
Reports of falls from AWPs imply that the worker fell from the platform cage for a range of reasons but this article reports that
“it is understood the ground under the machine collapsed, causing the machine to tip over.”
This is the initial safety lesson from the newspaper report.
The Age newspaper is not participating in the political campaign and provided a “straight” report on the incident.
WorkSafe Victoria provides better detail of the incident by reporting:
“…the boom lift was being operated by the worker on a temporary track, when the ground gave way on one side of the machine, causing him to fall to the ground.”
There is still much more detail to come on this incident but the media reporting shows that it is essential that a range of public information sources should be read to provide a balanced report and one that has more practical safety applications.
A really interesting side issue to this article is that the WorkSafe media release includes a hyperlink for further information on AWPs – a Wikipedia link!! I admit that SafetyAtWorkBlog also links through to Wikipedia occasionally but for a government authority to do so is odd, particularly when it has the opportunity to link through to its own AWP-related publications and information. Perhaps it is WorkSafe’s way of linking to a “non-commercial” website.
If ever there was a case for an independently funded and managed SafetyWiki, this is it.