Horror injury: 1.6-tonne mine machinery crushes dad
WAITING for a colleague to bring tools to a job site one night, Dan Peterson and a work mate were talking about what would happen if they were to die at work.
Dan's mate said he knew his family would be okay since he had life insurance.
Just hours later, that same mate would be tying dirty rags around Dan's crushed leg to stem the blood loss and comforting him while help arrived.
The father of four young children was lucky to survive the horrific accident, but has had to endure multiple surgeries and ongoing pain in the months since.
Speaking to The Morning Bulletin during National Work Safe Month, Dan said he never believed it could happen to him.
"I never, ever thought it would happen to me," he said.
"Our entire savings are gone, everything that (my wife) had planned with her business which was going really well at Moranbah is totally gone now.
"It's really, really, been very hard this last six or more months since this happened."
Moranbah-based Dan was employed as a field service fitter with Hastings Deering when he clocked on for the first night shift of the week at Blackwater's Curragh Coal Mine in May.
After some delays in starting their first big job for the night, Dan and a colleague got to work loosening bolts on a piece of machinery weighing 1.6 tonnes.
The third person on that night had been called to another part of the site.
During the maintenance, a massive piece of machinery fell unexpectedly.
It crushed Dan's leg and ripped into his fingers.
The causes of the incident are still under investigation.
The pain didn't hit straight away, as Dan went into shock for the first 20 minutes.
His colleague was distraught, but took charge by calling emergency services and wrapping Dan's leg in rags to stem the flow of blood.
He comforted Dan while they waited for the ambulance and by 11.30pm that night he was leaving the mine site.
Dan was taken to Blackwater Hospital and stabilised, before being transferred to Rockhampton Hospital the next day.
After some delays there, he was taken to Hillcrest Private Hospital for surgery.
Contamination of the wound became an issue and Dan went through multiple surgeries in his five weeks at the hospital.
During this time, Dan's wife and children had only been able to manage intermittent visits.
His wife was running a business and caring for their four young children, as well as studying at university.
I was very worried, very stressed, feeling helpless," Dan said.
"My wife was probably more so because she was trying to juggle the emotions of all the kids at home."
As his time at Hillcrest came to an end, Dan and his wife made the huge decision to permanently move to Brisbane so he could access all the rehabilitation and medical services he would need over the coming months.
Dan's brother took leave from his job in Cairns to help them prepare for the move and saw them through to Brisbane.
But before they moved, a friend of Dan's drove him from Rockhampton back to Moranbah so he could farewell the friends and community who had been a constant support since the accident.
Several months later and Dan can now walk short distances around the house without aides, but will find out next week if more surgery is required to help the bones set correctly.
Dan said every worker should consider life or income protection insurance, something he had never given a second thought.
Despite the pain and suffering Dan has been through, he's thankful he can still see his children grow up.
He has no doubt he "wouldn't have stood a chance" had the 1.6 tonne machine fallen in a different way.
Maurice Blackburn Associate, Melissa Meyers said Dan was one of over 26,000 Queensland workers seriously injured in general workplace incidents annually.
Ms Meyers said workplace safety should be a high priority for all employers, with recent Queensland Government legislation proposed which could see the nation's toughest laws from July 2018 if passed.
This legislation includes a new offence of industrial manslaughter which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for an individual and a maximum fine of $10 million for corporate offenders.
"This legislation is welcome - I have seen many families left devastated because a preventable workplace accident has taken a loved one from them, and it is important that businesses and employers now know that tough and serious penalties will apply if they do not prioritise safety," Ms Meyers said.
Between January 2016 and April 2017, there were 49 people killed in workplace incidents in the state.
This included 31-year-old Daniel Springer who died after an incident at the Goonyella Riverside mine in August.
Ms Meyes said although there were no Central Queensland-specific figures, the region often saw more serious injuries due to the nature of heavy industry in mining and resources.
She said it was crucial workers looked into income protection and life insurance options because despite Queensland's robust workplace compensation schemes, there could still be periods of rehabilitation which were not covered by insurance policies.
Where there are grounds for a claim against the employer, Ms Meyers said action could take a year to 18 months where an injured person may not be working.
"Here in Queensland we are fortunate to have an effective workers' compensation scheme to support injured workers, but maintaining safe workplaces must remain a priority for employers and employees," she said.