Injured truck driver calls for focus on workplace safety

TALK SAFETY: Principal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Browns Plains, Jillian Barrett talks to Jimboomba resident Bruce Johnson, who was injured in an accident at work, about workplace safety. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough
TALK SAFETY: Principal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Browns Plains, Jillian Barrett talks to Jimboomba resident Bruce Johnson, who was injured in an accident at work, about workplace safety. Photo: Cheryl Goodenough

LEFT with severe pain after an accident at work, Jimboomba truck driver Bruce Johnson has urged employees and employers to make work safety a priority.

Mr Johnson suffered two compound fractures in his back, severe cuts and bruising when the dump truck he was driving tipped in January.

The 51-year-old said his face smashed into a side window before he was thrown out of the cab, leaving him unconscious.

“People need to be more aware (of workplace safety) and know their rights,” he said.

Mr Johnson said he could not return to work, was forced to rely on others to help with chores like mowing and car maintenance, and was struggling with depression.

“I can’t do so many of the things I used to enjoy.”

Prevention is better than cure.

Jillian Barrett, principal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Highlighting workplace safety during October’s National Safe Work Month, Jillian Barrett principal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers at Browns Plains said too many businesses and employers were not taking workplace safety seriously.

“All too often we see workplace accidents that could have easily been prevented,” she said.

“I have seen many families left devastated because a preventable workplace accident has taken a loved one from them.”

Ms Barrett said Mr Johnson’s accident had a drastic impact on every aspect of his life.

“There will be lifelong consequences,” she said.

“His life won’t ever be the same because of something that shouldn’t have occurred at all.”

Ms Barrett said statistics from Safe Work Australia recorded 49 deaths in Queensland, the highest workplace fatalities of any state between January 2016 and April this year.

“National Safe Work Month is a crucial reminder of employers’ duty of care,” Ms Barrett said.

“We need to change people’s mindsets to have safety in the workplace as their highest priority.”

Ms Barrett said Queensland government had introduced legislation that would see Australia’s toughest work health and safety laws in place from July next year.

She said they included a new offence of industrial manslaughter which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for an individual and fine up to $10 million for corporate offenders.

“Prevention is better than cure but it’s too late once an accident has occurred, so it’s vitally important to prioritise health and safety in the workplace,” Ms Barrett said.

The theme of the annual initiative to shine a spotlight on safety in the workplace is sharing safety knowledge and experience benefits everyone.

For information, visit worksafe.qld.gov.au/safe-work-month.