Workplace accidents can take a tragic turn, and this tragedy can affect more than just the person who was injured or killed. A family in Launceston demonstrated that just recently when a father mustered his courage to read a victim’s impact statement in court, trying to describe the pain his entire family felt after losing his young son in a workplace accident.
Leigh Reaney was only 20 years old when on August 6, 2012, he fell to his death while working on a roof. The 4.7 meter fall killed the young man, and it was determined that he was wearing an unsecured safety harness at the time.
Reaney had been employed by W&A Sherwood Enterprises, and their directors have entered a guilty plea to several different charges, including one charge of failing to ensure a safe workplace and two counts of using faulty equipment.
The death was so painful for the family that Reaney’s father admitted during his victim’s impact statement that his wife was still not able to attend court, some two years after her son’s death. Reaney spoke of the pain and anguish the entire family was suffering at the time, stating that his daughter had lost her brother and best friend and Leigh’s girlfriend Briony had lost her soul mate.
Leigh was a soccer player for the Prospect Knights who was well-loved; his funeral was attended by some 600 people. Leigh’s father talked about the difficulty of attending the services and he also spoke about the remaining processes he and his family faced in court, including the coroner’s inquest. Each was a reminder that his son was not coming home, he said tearfully.
The elder Reaney also made his opinion of the cause of the accident known to the court, speaking of his disgust for the fact that his son was killed in an area that should have been safe as required by law. The court heard that Leigh had fallen to his death while retrieving a drill after his lunch break. Prosecutors argued that there was a lack of a static line to which workers could attach safety harnesses, so they needed to reconnect their harness as they walked around the roof and this resulted in the tragic fall.
Reaney’s death is just one more tragic example of how workplace injuries affect more than just the person injured or killed. These accidents create a ripple effect that impact their families and friends that affect them for the rest of their lives.