Loved ones gather for WA workers’ memorial

Shelley Aplin doesn’t want anyone else to have to go through the pain she has suffered since her partner Gerry Bradley went to work and never came home.


Gerry, 27, and his fellow Irish mate Joe McDermott, 24, were crushed and killed by concrete panels that fell while the pair were having a break at their workplace, an East Perth construction site where apartments were being built, five months ago.

“I don’t think you ever get over something like this … personally trying to make a difference is helping,” she told AAP.

Ms Aplin attended an International Workers’ Memorial Day in Perth on Thursday in which union members remembered people that had died or have been badly injured at work.

Emotional relatives of people who died at work laid wreaths, including Lystra Tagliaferri, whose husband, David, died when he was hit by a truck while he was changing a flat tyre on a WA highway.

Ms Aplin and Mr Bradley’s family have been frustrated waiting for a WorkSafe report on his death, including an explanation of what happened and how responsible his employer Jaxon Group should be held for it.

Mr Aplin missed out on WorkSafe compensation as a partner, because she had not been with Gerry for two years.

She said the most support had come from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, organising meetings for her and Mr Bradley’s father with politicians in Canberra to discuss workplace safety, which was raised in parliament, and a commemorative plaque.

“Without them I probably wouldn’t have had any clear answers while I was grieving,” she said.

The crowd were told they had the right to be safe at work and not exploited by the rich and powerful as resources rather than humans, with union figures, a Cancer Council health expert and an Anglican minister among the speakers.

The day’s themes included: transport companies pushing truck drivers to break the law; cancer risks and environmental carcinogens at workplaces, particularly in the mining and agricultural sectors; and WorkSafe being in denial about conditions.

There have been 41 people killed at work in Australia this year and there were 191 last year.