THE Deputy State Coroner has recommended a raft of changes to training in the construction industry after finding that a 19-year-old who died after installing insulation in a sweltering Sydney roof cavity was the victim of extremely poor safety practices and ignorance about the risks involved.
Marcus Wilson, 19, died at Nepean Hospital on November 21, 2009, from hyperthermia, muscle meltdown and total organ failure after working for hours in a sweltering roof cavity in the western Sydney suburb of St Clair.
In handing down his coronial findings yesterday, magistrate Hugh Dillon said the death of the young man, who had never worked as an installer before he agreed to fill in for his best friend, was the result of a range of factors, including his and his supervisors' serious lack of knowledge about the dangers of heat stress and the need for regular hydration.
A major contributor to this, the coroner found, was that Mr Wilson's employer, the now defunct Pride Building NSW, had ''no meaningful safety policy concerning such work''.
''It had no guidelines or rules of thumb for ensuring that work stopped when the temperatures in the roof spaces reached a certain point,'' Mr Dillon told the Coroner's Court in Glebe. ''It had no policy for ensuring that contractors took rest breaks and were adequately hydrated when working in roof spaces. It did not bring the risk of heat stroke to the attention of contractors … It did not provide insulators with any means of measuring the temperatures in roof spaces.''
The management of the company, in particular its director, Ryan Glover, placed high emphasis on getting the work done and ''used the threat of termination of contracts to ensure it was''.
The Coroner recommended that Australian Construction and Training Service consider conducting random audits to assess whether training is being delivered appropriately, that training have a practical component, and have a topic devoted specifically to heat stroke and dehydration.