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Workplace tragedies inspire Queenslanders to join safety advocate program

The parents of 2 Queenslanders who were tragically electrocuted at work are sharing their heartfelt stories to remind others to stay safe.

Marking International Workers' Memorial Day on April 28 this year, Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace announced Dan and Debbie Kennedy and Lee Garrels had joined the Office of Industrial Relations' Safety Advocate program.

Dan and Debbie Kennedy's 20-year-old son, Dale, was a third-year apprentice electrician who was installing data cables in the ceiling space of a Cairns school when he was electrocuted. Michael and Lee Garrels' son, Jason, was 20 years old when he was electrocuted at a construction site in Clermont. He had only been working there for nine days.

The Safety Advocate program draws on the experiences of everyday Queenslanders who have either been injured at work or have had a family member killed at work. Safety advocates are incredibly brave, speaking to workers all over the state about what can happen when safety is overlooked. They visit workplaces and speak at safety meetings, toolbox talks and other events.

Each advocate has worked with the Office of Industrial Relations to produce a film about their experience of a personal injury or the death of a loved one and its impact on family members, friends and work mates.

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. Their message clearly resonates with workers and employers alike—no-one wants to go through this kind of experience.

Workplaces across the state can book free visits from a safety advocate to get a powerful safety message from people who know firsthand the importance of work safety. Learn more about safety advocates and watch their films at safety advocates.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
09 September 2020