News

Fatal Strike by Cement Hose

Bruce Mckean | 23rd November 2010

THE death of 56-year-old concrete business operator Greg Paterson after a workplace accident at Proserpine has resulted in warnings to the industry about the inherent dangers of “hose whip”, which is caused when compressed air builds up accidentally in pumping hoses.

Gregory Clifford Paterson lived at Loganholme, in Brisbane, and was a father of six children. He operated a concreting business called Paterson Concrete Services. He was in the Mackay/Whitsundays region in mid-2007 to work after the Queensland Government issued a contract to build covered walkways for 29 primary schools. The fatal accident occurred at Proserpine State School on the morning of June 4, 2007, when Mr. Paterson was working with seven other men.

While pumping concrete, the pump experienced a blockage and it could be heard laboring without any output, North Queensland Coroner Kevin Priestly found. “Then suddenly it released itself under considerable pressure, sufficient to whip the hose from the hands of a worker who was holding it,” Mr. Priestly said.

“There was a recoil in the hose and it struck Mr. Paterson to the left side of the face, knocking him backward to the ground. His head struck the region of a base plate at the foot of a steel post.”

Immediate first aid was given and an ambulance arrived and took Mr. Paterson to the Proserpine Hospital where he was stabilized then transferred by Careflight to the Townsville General Hospital.

Mr. Paterson died 11 days later.

An autopsy revealed that death was caused by complications from the head injury, which consisted of a depressed skull fracture and small hemorrhaging. The coroner found that workers on the Proserpine site knew that the pump hose could get blocked and that compressed air could build up but took no steps to warn anyone.

The coroner said: “This failure reflected a lack of awareness about the risk of death from hose whip that appears to extend throughout the concreting industry.”

In his conclusions about Mr. Paterson’s accident, he said: “There was an opportunity to substantially reduce the exposure of workers in the vicinity of the hose from hose whip by warning or directing them to keep clear on restarting the pumping operation.

“This was not done. If Mr. Paterson had stood clear of the hose on restarting, he is unlikely to have sustained a head injury.”

The Division of Workplace Health and Safety has issued safety alerts throughout the industry since the fatality