Coroner calls for code for working in extreme heat

A coronial inquiry into a death caused by heatstroke on the Roma 2 GLNG project has highlighted a number of potentially fatal safety deficiencies.

FIFO worker Glenn Richard Newport – known by his nickname ‘Grievous’ – died at the GLNG upstream project in January 2013, after suffering a heart attack caused by dilutional heatstroke.

Newport was working for McConnell Dowell as a subcontractor on the project, and that day had reportedly worked for several hours in temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius.

He reportedly began to feel unwell after his shift, and was taken to the Roma 2 GLNG camp’s medical clinic, and after being treated, sent back to his accommodation, according to the Daily Mercury.

Later that night a fellow worker visited Newport and found him in a deteriorated condition.

An ambulance was called, however he died en route to Roma hospital.

According to experts at the inquest, Newport suffered from hyponatremia, which causes the organs to swell.

During the inquest into his passing, Queensland coroner John Hutton stated that current methods for managing worker safety during periods of extreme heat were deficient.

While he acknowledged that McConnell Dowell’s policies could be improved, adding that if Newport had been taken to hospital initially he may have survived, Hutton said the incident could have occurred at any number of other work sites around Australia.

Hutton went on to add the camp’s medical clinic’s inability to contact a supporting doctor was “nit a lapse in protocol” but “Was indeed a fatal mistake”.

He called on the heavy construction industry to develop a code of practice to deal with heat injuries at work, such as cut-of temperatures at which to cease operations, and provisions for night work when temperatures are forecast to be high.

Earlier this year workers faced temperatures nearing 50 degrees Celsius.

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