Jason Garrels died just shy of his 21st birthday on his ninth day as a trades assistant for Daytona Trading Pty Ltd.
Jason Garrels died just shy of his 21st birthday on his ninth day as a trades assistant for Daytona Trading Pty Ltd. Contributed

Jason Garrels' parents call for suspension of company

WHY did Jason Garrels die?

Distraught parents Michael and Lee Garrels, formerly of Clermont, have put their grief over the tragic death of their son aside as they demand answers.

Mr Garrels has called on the Attorney-General and the Building Services Authority to suspend a building company after Jason died in a workplace health and safety incident on February 27 last year.

The 20-year-old had worked as a trade's assistant for builder Daytona Trading Pty Ltd for nine days when he was electrocuted on a construction site at a unit development complex at McDonald Flat Rd, Clermont.

Daytona Trading Pty Ltd was in charge of building the units and in charge of the site for stage one of the development.

WANTING ANSWERS: Lee Garrels, Jason’s mother, outside the Clermont Court House after the matter was first mentioned.
WANTING ANSWERS: Lee Garrels, Jason’s mother, outside the Clermont Court House after the matter was first mentioned.

Mr Garrels' indescribable heartbreak was replaced by anger and frustration when he found out the BSA wasn't even aware of the fatality almost 17 months later.

While recently speaking with a BSA executive officer, Mr Garrels said he asked, "How can you not be aware of a death on a site with a licence holder?"

The response was "It must have fallen through the cracks", Mr Garrels said.

It has already been indicated in the Mackay Industrial Magistrates Court, electrical company Cold Spark Pty Ltd, also working at the same site, would plead guilty to failing to discharge an electrical safety obligation.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said at the time of the incident, Cold Spark Pty Ltd was in control of the site and its director had since been called before the Electrical Licensing Committee.

As a result, the electrical contracting licence was suspended for 24 months and a $3000 fine was issued. Numerous other conditions were put in place before an electrical contractor's licence could be reinstated, the spokesperson said.

But Mr Garrels wanted to know what about Daytona Trading Pty Ltd, who employed his son.

Mr Garrels said Daytona Trading Pty Ltd had had breaches other than the fatality. He said he'd also lodged a complaint with Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) about the company when he noticed there was scaffolding on a worksite with no safety rails.

There was also an explosion at the same site about three months after Jason's death, Mr Garrels said.

Daytona Trading Pty Ltd has chosen not to comment because this matter was currently before the courts.

However, MVM Legal partner Jamie McPherson, acting on behalf of the building company, said Daytona Trading Pty Ltd "denies the other alleged incidents ... on the basis that they are completely untrue".

A police media spokesperson confirmed Clermont police investigated an explosion on a construction site at a unit development complex on McDonald Flat Rd on June 3 last year.

It is believed to have resulted from a fire in a waste pit area away from the actual construction site.

While the explosion wasn't at the exact same location as the electrocution, it was at the same construction site, the police spokesman said.

Daytona Trading Pty Ltd director and secretary Gary Labuschewski took out a permit to burn waste, cardboard and timber in his private name.

A WHS spokesman confirmed they had received complaints about Daytona Trading Pty Ltd in relation to scaffolding on a worksite with no safety rails.

Michael Garrels: To me this is not just a little thing. This is someone’s life.
Michael Garrels: To me this is not just a little thing. This is someone’s life.

"Innocence or guilt aside, when you look and you see this many incidents isn't that enough, especially with a fatality in the middle of it ... to suspend (the company) or ask it to show cause," Mr Garrels said.

"To me this is not just a little thing. This is someone's life."

Before contacting the BSA, Mr Garrels said he and his wife Lee spoke with the Attorney-General's office, but "it was less can do and more why we can't do it."

The Office of Fair and Safe Work Queensland has finalised the investigation into this incident and currently has prosecutions before the courts against Daytona Trading Pty Ltd, but the Department of Justice spokesperson said the authority to suspend a company's building licence or ask it to show cause rested with the BSA.



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