Town embraces Buzzard tribute
The family of a man killed in a mining accident near Paraburdoo have set up a foundation to promote workplace safety and support families in the aftermath of site incidents on the first anniversary of his death.
Thirty-two-year-old Lee Buzzard was a diesel fitter at Rio Tinto’s Channar Mine, east of Paraburdoo, when he was killed in a workplace incident on June 20, 2016.
Last Monday, members of his family visited the site for a memorial service, during which one minute of silence was observed across all Rio Tinto iron ore operations, and to announce a foundation they have created in his name.
The newly established Lee Buzzard Foundation will have three main roles — supporting affected families emotionally, financially and with information; educating people on workplace safety; and advocating for victims and families. Mr Buzzard’s mother Sharon Westerman said she set up the foundation to help other families affected by workplace tragedies.
She said it was something her son would have wanted.
“It’s inspired by Lee himself, the person he was,” she said.
“He would have wanted us to do something good.”
Ms Westerman said she had big plans for the charity, including establishing a Pilbara miners’ memorial site, similar to that in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, and starting an annual fun day for all families affected by workplace incidents.
“I’m hoping to really do something special because there’s a bit of a gap in what is out there for people,” she said.
Mr Buzzard spent most of his life in the Pilbara and began working with Rio as an apprentice in his teens.
Labor Mining and Pastoral MLC Kyle McGinn, a strong supporter of the Lee Buzzard Foundation, spoke at the Channar Mine memorial service last week.
He said the foundation fulfilled a need for more independent support and advocacy for people affected by workplace incidents.
Rio Tinto’s Channar Mine management have also arranged for a new plane prop for its emergency response team, of which Mr Buzzard was a volunteer, to be named The Buzzard in his honour.
The investigation into Mr Buzzard’s death is ongoing.