BLINDED BY BEER KEG

Safety ad­vo­cate on a mis­sion to pre­vent more in­juries

The Observer - - FRONT PAGE - GRE­GORY BRAY Gre­gory.Bray@glad­sto­neob­server.com.au

IT WAS the night Ga­van McGuane will never for­get and one he’s de­ter­mined to spend the rest of his life shar­ing with work­ers.

In 1994 Mr McGuane was left blind in one eye and with par­tial vi­sion in the other af­ter trip­ping over in a cold room and hav­ing a beer keg full of clean­ing so­lu­tion ex­plode in his face.

This week he vis­ited Glad­stone work­places to talk to in­dus­try em­ploy­ees about how the rushed de­ci­sions he made that night changed his, and his fam­ily’s, lives for­ever.

“I was a proud cap­tain coach of the South­port Sharks,” he said.

“I was mar­ried with two sons and had a pretty good life.

“That ac­ci­dent taught me how quickly it can all get taken away from you.”

THAT AC­CI­DENT TAUGHT ME HOW QUICKLY IT CAN ALL GET TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU

GA­VAN MCGUANE

IN 1994, Ga­van McGuane was do­ing the right thing for his work­mates when ev­ery­thing went 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.

“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.

“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.”

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 1300 369 915.”

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.”

Photo: Matt Tay­lor GLA111018WHAS

AD­VO­CAT­ING CHANGE: Work­place health and safety ad­vo­cate Ga­van McGuane had work­ers’ at­ten­tion dur­ing his visit to Glad­stone this week.

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