SEVEN YEARS ON: Jason Garrels (pictured) died while working on electrical installation in Clermont in Central Queensland.
SEVEN YEARS ON: Jason Garrels (pictured) died while working on electrical installation in Clermont in Central Queensland. Daily Mercury Archives

Parents of former Gympie apprentice killed on worksite speak out

THE parents of a former Gympie man electrocuted at a Central Queensland worksite in 2012 are sharing their stories to remind others to stay safe.

Jason Garrels, 20, was nine days into his new job when he died while building apartments at Clermont in February 2012. The electrical contractor responsible for Mr Garrels' death, Nathan Brian Day, was sentenced to seven years' jail for manslaughter and perjury last year.

That same year, Dale Daniel Kennedy, a 20-year-old Apprentice Electrician was installing data cables in the ceiling space of a Cairns school when he was electrocuted.

Mr Garrels' parents and Mr Kennedy's parents are sharing their stories to remind others to stay safe.

 

JASON'S LAW: Michael Garrels says his faith in politics has been restored by Queensland parliament's unanimous support for legal changes which might have saved his son's life - as long as the bureaucrats implement the change effectively.
JASON'S LAW: Michael Garrels in 2017 said his faith in politics has been restored by Queensland parliament's unanimous support for legal changes which might have saved his son's life - as long as the bureaucrats implement the change effectively. Arthur Gorrie

Marking International Workers' Memorial Day yesterday, Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace announced Dan and Debbie Kennedy and Lee Garrels had joined the safety advocate program.

Ms Grace said both families were committed to preventing further tragedies after their sons died in separate workplace electrical incidents.

"The safety advocate program draws on the terrible experiences of everyday Queenslanders who have either been injured at work, or have had a family member killed at work," Ms Grace said.

"Our advocates are incredibly brave, speaking to workers all over the state about what can happen when safety is overlooked."

123 Queenslanders have lost their lives in workplaces incidents, or from work-related disease or illness in the past five years. A further 52 bystanders have also lost their lives.

"International Workers' Memorial Day is an opportunity to honour and remember these people and their families and friends, and be reminded that there is always more we can do to keep our workers safe," Ms Grace said.

"The government is currently drafting new laws which will make it mandatory to turn the power off before workers enter a ceiling space.

"Michael and Lee work tirelessly with us as part of a consultative committee to give other people affected by a workplace tragedy a voice and help them get the support they need."

Queensland Safety Advocates visit workplaces and speak at safety meetings, toolbox talks and other events.

"The safety advocate program has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, with the advocates visiting nearly 200 workplaces in 2018, and well on track to top that in 2019," Ms Grace said.

"Their message clearly resonates with workers and employers alike - no-one wants to go through this kind of experience. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for the work they do - it must be incredibly challenging to relive these memories. To do so for the good of other people is nothing short of heroic."

Learn more about safety advocates and watch their films at www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/safety-advocates.