News & Insights

Apprentice’s tragic death shows importance of timely incident response

Published 22 November 2018

The accidental death of a Melbourne apprentice during a practical training placement highlights the importance of having the right protocols in place for dealing with a crisis.

Twenty-year-old metal engineering apprentice Dillion Wu died while on site at a fabrication company where he was working as part of his employment with the Australian Industry Group Training Services (AiGTS), one of Australia’s largest business and educational organisations.

His death was the result of exposure to an accidental discharge of toxic argon gas while working in a confined space. The incident is currently under investigation, but this has not prevented the publication of accusations in the media that AiGTS and the company involved are at fault due to failure to act upon a recent AiGTS audit identifying safety issues.

Stephen Lewis, Gallagher Practice Leader – Safety Western RegionStephen Lewis, Gallagher Practice Leader – Safety Western Region, (pictured) says the tragedy should prompt business operators to ask themselves: “Do we know what to do if something like this occurs at our place of work?”.

If the answer is no, Lewis says that businesses can get help when a critical incident occurs. “When an incident like this occurs, people often don’t know what to do,” Lewis says. 

“The initial first response is handled well, with emergency services, but after this people are typically shocked, emotional and unable to believe what has just happened. Often they don’t know what to do next.

"Having an external expert formulate a response plan that equips organisations with specialised resources is important. Hopefully, these resources will never be needed, but in the aftermath of tragic events they can prove to be extremely helpful.

"If an incident does occur, a business can call on a step-by-step protocol with key actions and responsibilities assigned and ordered by priority to ensure effective response, management and damage limitation."

While documented processes are important, Lewis adds that the human element must not be forgotten. "Our workplace health and safety specialists are trained to assist organisations in dealing with and responding to tragedies in the workplace.

"Companies deal with crises in different ways, and having external expertise available can provide vital on-the-ground assistance and guidance when it is needed most."

The Gallagher Workplace Risk team’s expertise ranges from incident response, including first actions, through to managing an investigation and reporting. The team's specific Workplace Health & Safety offering encompasses everything from safety mentoring and training through to health and wellness programs, hazard and risk profiling, and incident management and investigation.

Find out more by talking to one of the experts on Gallagher’s Workplace Risk team.

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