The family of a teenage tradie who died at work earlier this year has slammed the government for failing to protect young workers.
Tyler Whitton, who had just turned 17, was working as an apprentice builder in Brisbane when he fell about three metres at a West End building site in September.
He was rushed to the Royal Brisbane Hospital and placed in an induced coma but could not be revived.
His devastated family attended a protest organised by the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union on Wednesday, where they called for tighter safety regulations.
Just days after Tyler’s death, the union revealed it had visited the worksite where he died in June and found a ‘huge fall from heights’ was a major safety concern.
His grandparents Liz and Jack Whitton said there were ‘obvious’ and ‘atrocious’ dangers at the site when they visited following Tyler’s fall.
‘There needs to be something done about industrial manslaughter,’ Mrs Whitton told the Courier Mail.
‘Tyler was 17; he didn’t know that was going to happen on that day. If there had been a barrier there, he’d still be enjoying Christmas with his family,’ she said.
His other grandmother, Joanne Crisp, described the effect of Tyler’s death on the family as ‘shattering’.
‘I am here for Tyler. We want to raise his blood from the concrete,’ she said.
‘[His mother] still cries for her son to come home.’
Hundreds of frustrated workers attended the rally in Brisbane on Wednesday and called for the government to overhaul Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s inspection policies.
CFMEU state secretary Michael Ravbar accused the state government of ‘failing to modernise’ its safety regulations, exposing workers to the ‘greed’ of employers.
‘They have ignored repeated warnings about deteriorating safety standards and refused to cut out the cancer at WHSQ,’ Mr Ravbar said.
‘Our members are sick of seeing Labor politicians cry crocodile tears for dead workers and then do nothing to help prevent the next tragedy from occurring.’
CFMEU assistant secretary Jade Ingham added: ‘We are not going to be treated like numbers on a spreadsheet anymore, like a cost of doing business.’
At the rally, attendees yelled, ‘Annastacia [Palaszczuk] you can stop it, workers’ lives are not for profit’ and demanded ‘safe sites now’.
In an earlier statement in parliament, Minister for Industrial Relations Grace Grace described Queensland’s workplace safety laws as ‘some of the best in the nation’.
‘We will never stop our efforts to protect Queensland workers,’ she said.