Apprentice’s death sparks union anger

GEORGIA LONEY, The West Australian
January 31, 2011

Unions have questioned whether Harvey Beef failed in its duty of care towards a teenage apprentice fitter who was dead up to three days before being found crushed by machinery on Friday.

Harvey man Dean Simpson, 18, was found by a co-worker about 2pm on Friday in the roof space of the coolroom of the abattoir.

Operations at the State’s biggest abattoir remain suspended today after 300 workers were sent home at 3pm on Friday.

Mr Simpson’s body was removed from the site on Saturday.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union State secretary Steve McCartney said he had written to WorkSafe demanding a full and open investigation.

“We’re disgusted that in 2011 this can happen,” he said. “WorkSafe should be investigating the company’s following of their duty of care.”

Australian Meat Industries Employees Union branch secretary Graham Smith said it was difficult to speculate until all the circumstances surrounding the death became known.

“We’re going to be looking very closely into this,” he said.

“It’s an absolutely horrible incident and there are a lot of workers who know the fellow involved and it’s very upsetting for the workforce.

“The length of time in discovering the body is of some concern to us and we obviously have some questions about that.”

Unions WA health and safety officer Linda Morich said the man was an AMIEU member.

“We’re hoping that when WorkSafe go in to do this investigation, they don’t just look at the circumstances around this poor kid’s demise but how it’s going to be prevented in the future.

“Who was keeping a check? There are supposed to be tag-in and tag-out systems.

“No doubt the investigation will uncover what happened there. Quite simply, the system wasn’t failsafe.”

Mr Simpson’s death has shocked the South West town.

A Harvey Beef spokesman would not comment on the circumstances surrounding Mr Simpson’s death.

“The Harvey Beef community is shattered by this incident and our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” he said.

“The company is working with the police and other authorities to fully investigate this matter.”

Story from The West Australian accessed at <http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/8741321/apprentices-death-sparks-union-anger/> on 13 April 2011