Queensland Government Workplace Health and Safety Inspector Jade Sawtell and workplace health and safety advocate Gavan McGuane in Gladstone on 11 October 2018.
Queensland Government Workplace Health and Safety Inspector Jade Sawtell and workplace health and safety advocate Gavan McGuane in Gladstone on 11 October 2018. Matt Taylor GLA111018WHAS

How one slip changed this worker's life forever

IN 1994 Gavan McGuane was doing the right thing for his workmates when everythingwent horribly wrong.

"I was working in a hotel and was about to clean the keg lines in the cold room," he said.

"I was only supposed to be at work for half an hour but I'd been there for nearly an hour.

"The person who was supposed to do it wasn't around so I thought I'd quickly do it.

"I'd done the job a thousand times, but as I rushed into the cold room I didn't put on the goggles, the floor was slippery and the rubber mat had a curled edge."

Everything had lined up to cause an accident Mr McGuane will never forget.

"In all the panic and mayhem I tripped on the mat and fell onto a keg full of cleaning agent," he said.

"My hand pushed down the plunger and the pressurised alkaline contents sprayed directly into my face."

The accident left him blind in one eye and with 15 to 20 per cent vision in the other.

"The pain was incredible," Mr McGuane said.

"As a result of my rushing and tearing I wound up spending 57 days in hospital.

"I had an eye transplant and that's like having a lung and kidney transplant but the eye's still closed."

 

Workplace health and safety advocate Gavan McGuane in Gladstone on 11 October 2018.
Workplace health and safety advocate Gavan McGuane in Gladstone on 11 October 2018. Matt Taylor GLA111018WHAS

During his recovery Mr Mcguane was determined to take a positive out of a negative.

"I'm a safety advocate now for Workplace Health and Safety," he said.

"I know how quickly it can all be taken away from you.

"I travel around Queensland sharing my story with workers because I don't want to see anyone end up looking like this, or hurt or dead."

WH&S Officer Jade Sawtell said the feedback from workers after Mr McGuane's presentations was excellent.

"People really take it in," she said.

"Gavan does his story, then we do our presentation afterwards and you can see they're really listening."

 

She had the following advice for anyone at work considering taking risks or are unsure about an unsafe condition or task.

"If it doesn't feel right, don't do it," Ms Sawtell said.

"Seek advice from your safety people or talk to your employer.

"If you're still not sure, call WH&S 1300369915."

Mr McGuane agreed with her.

"Take a step back, don't rush and do the job properly," he said.

""My accident happened when I was 36," he said.

"I'm 60 now but I'm not going to retire, I'll keep talking to workers until the day I die.



How satisfied are Coffs residents?

premium_icon How satisfied are Coffs residents?

Three key points up for discussion at this week's council meeting.

World class action headed to the Coffs Coast

premium_icon World class action headed to the Coffs Coast

Two major world sporting events headed to the region in November.

Say no to high fuel prices

premium_icon Say no to high fuel prices

Buyer power will aim to strike back against rising fuel prices.

Local Partners