APPRENTICES TRAINING APPRENTICES
It has never been disputed by Diemould or any of the evidence that any new apprentice about to set task on the Horizontal Borer would be trained by an apprentice. The reasoning behind this was that this was the best way to ensure the freshest person passed on his knowledge to the next person.
The serious flaws in this system of training are many and varied - a little too obvious for comfort.
First of all, I see no difference between having a qualified tradesman be the one to pass on his knowledge and experience to a young worker. He or she is just as ‘fresh’ in the operating of the Horizontal Borer if that is the machine they are charged with training - with the added benefit of many more years continual practice both in the machine’s operation and the trade in general.
One teacher – a teacher that is duly qualified in training and supervising.
The manner in which Diemould used apprentices to teach the new apprentices offers little confidence that what each apprentice is learning is the constant. There is no way of monitoring that what each apprentice is being taught is consistent.
The comments have been made over the course of this inquest that there would be no reason why Daniel should have been close enough to get into trouble on the Horizontal Borer. That is an incredibly narrow minded opinion when the evidence showed that apprentices did indeed do things and likely train things that were considered taboo.
For example – applying the coolant. We heard from several apprentices that used this machine and there was no constant in their evidence on how far away they would be when applying coolant manually.
ARMANDO BAKER said he would he would stand anywhere from 50cm to just a few cm away depending on the job. P467 L26
MARK REMFREY said he would normally have been approximately between 30 to 40 cm away and at closest 15 to 20cm..” P114 L37
SANDEEP CHALIL when asked whether he was able to suggest what a safe distance would be to apply the coolant when working on the Horizontal Borer:
P155 L23 – “A safe distance, like.”
When asked by Ms Cacas if he could offer an indication in centimetres:
P155 L32 – “No I can’t”
FRED HULL was adamant that there would be no need for any apprentice to get closer than 500-600mm ... you didn’t really need to aim the coolant –
P851 L29 – “You only have to – it’s not as if you have to squirt the coolant directly onto a certain spot, it was a matter of squirting it and spraying and that’s why the mats would get wet because it would be flung around.”
When asked whether anyone at Diemould looked at the possible dangers of the machine – not just in getting too close but the potential for slipping or losing their balance:
P882 L1 – “I know everybody was instructed to – and this came from we were talking about MARK REMFREY before. I’m sure he was as firm as Paul in that the place to operate that machine was on that particular mat.”
His Honour then asked whether there was a verbal instruction that you weren’t allowed to leave the mat while the machine was running:
P886 L6 – “Yes there was verbal instructions.”
(FRED HULL seemed to be under the impression that this mat was further away than it was in the photo’s he was shown. He conceded that it may well have been closer than he remembered. P888 – L9)
It is safe to say that DAVID McMINN like FRED HULL considered that if the borer had been used for its intended purpose, there was nothing to worry about.
Back to MARK REMFREY – he was asked if there might have been any reason why Daniel may have been momentarily off the mat and remembering this is the apprentice that trained Daniel.
P131 L18 – “you may want to step up onto the platform to make sure the hole isn’t breaking through” ... he goes on to say “... there’s the possibility that he tried to look over the top of the die block” and then “it was a large die block that was standing up on its side”
Same question, different apprentice, different training by AMARNDO BAKER
P471 L13 – If there was a tool job or a complex set up, you may want to look and check to see how the cutter is cutting or to see if the job is moving.
PETER DAVIDSON said something similar when asked a question by His Honour: “Had you ever experienced any difficulties with the borer that had put you into perhaps too close a contact with the moving spindle at any stage?”
P778 L17 – “There probably would have been times that I put myself too close to the moving spindle. Probably not through problems, through trying to look at – trying to observe something.”
The point of this is simply to outline 2 key issues. The apprentices were the ones that knew how close you may get because they were the only ones that were experienced on using this machine. To have an opinion on what one might have to do in order to get the job done, ask those who actually have operated the machine for more than an hour.
Yet another area where the wheels seemed to fall off when it came to my son.
It was clear based on the evidence that both the EEAGTS and Diemould were incompetent when it came to co-ordinating the off-site training or trade school as used to call it for Daniel.
I am still bewildered that Daniel spent 2 months painting the factory walls during what was perceived as a quiet time in production. He was an apprentice toolmaker – not a painter. He deserved to be schooled properly.
FRED HULL of Diemould Tooling and ROB DRYSDALE from the EEAGTS were both aware that Daniel had not done his prevocational training. I know this because I had conversations with both these men before Daniel started his apprenticeship. It was always known that he had started out of the normal routine. It was discussed that he would do catch up training during his 1st year. Of this I am absolutely clear.
What I found disturbing here is the blame shifting.
Both FRED HULL and PAUL BARBER in their statements to Workplace Services (SafeWork SA) claimed to have been unaware that Daniel was so far behind on offsite training. As the two men at Diemould in charge of the apprentices, that is surprising.
PAUL BARBER was asked the question by Mr Crocker as to what he believed the case was in terms of Daniel’s off-site training:
P664 L23 – “That he had done prevocational and also too with the EEASA – there was training there before the work site.”
When Mr Crocker asked whether PAUL BARBER was involved with liaising with anyone to provide offsite training for Daniel and whether he was involved in discussions about offsite training for Daniel – he answered NO to both questions. P665 – L24 and L27
However, FRED HULL offers a different perspective:
He was being asked about the topic of Daniel’s lack of offsite training:
P825 L37 “That topic may not have come up in leader’s meetings but it definitely came up in the operations room or maybe with Paul Barber as well, but it came up a couple of times.”
Who is telling the truth?
ROBERT DRYSDALE was certainly not efficient in carrying out his role as an apprentice co-ordinator. He gave evidence that outlined some attempts he had made to get the training going. His testimony outlines calls made to FRED HULL in December 2003 to move toward getting Daniel booked in for the January – February 2004 prevoc training block :
P543 L18 – DRYSDALE commented that he had made some enquiries and sought to have Daniel booked into or had made a booking with the Onkaparinga TAFE for further offsite training in January – February 2004.
Page 544 L2 – These arrangements were discussed with FRED HULL.
P581 L31 – DRYSDALE refers to his diary: “On Wednesday 10th December 2003” ... “an appointment time to meet with FRED HULL – 1.30pm.
P582 L9 – Friday 12th December 1.00pm – “Called FRED HULL at Diemould re Daniel’s further training 2004 block” This meeting wasn’t specific to Daniel.
P582 L12 - In parenthesis comment in diary after speaking with FRED HULL regarding offsite training in January - February 2004 – comment from HULL “Unable to attend due to expected work levels.”
FRED HULL did not disagree with these attempts of communication and getting the training going by ROB DRYSDALE...
Just again, bearing in mind that in June 2004 – when FRED HULL is interviewed by WPS (C38E P10 L5) he comments that he was surprised to learn that Daniel had not completed his prevocational training.
His statement with Rosie Batt dated 22nd June 2004 still gives the impression that he is oblivious to the idea that Daniel is behind in his schooling.
(C38A P4 L1) notes that “Daniel was an EEASA apprentice as are a number of our apprentices. The apprentices do a vocational course with EEASA before coming to us”
Within the walls of this court however, the story changes. Now there is some evidence of call-up sheets and these begin to paint a picture.
FRED HULL did not disagree with ROB DRYSDALE’s evidence where DRYSDALE recounts making enquires with FRED HULL on December the 10th and 12th 2003 in relation to having Daniel do some catch up offsite training - booked for the January / February 2004 training block. (P827 – Lines 15, 20)
He approaches the assistant operations manager to okay this training and is told that Daniel can’t be released because he will be needed onsite. This was for January – February 2004.
The next call up runs in April 2004 – but the story this time is that TAFE have made a mistake. He’s already done this subject. So there is another call up cancelled.
Third time lucky – there’s no date on the fax to verify when it was faxed but it is a 2 week call up that starts 31st May 2004 and goes through until the 11th June 2004. It would have been nice to see Daniel go to this call up. It may have meant he would not have been at work on the 5th June.
Anyway – more of the same when FRED HULL seeks out GREG DAVIES in operations, the argument now is that 10 days notice is not enough notice. There’s too much work on.
In checking NEVILLE GROSE’s statement, he mentions that Diemould requires at least 7 days notice C18aaaaas P57 L34. I’m wondering whether people are making this up as they go along. Is it 7 days, 10 days or 14 days? Or is it just when it suits?
The final call up – it comes through for approval – it was due to start the 7th June 2004. FRED HULL has this to say in court:
P818 L26 – “I was never that keen when as apprentice didn’t go to school when he was called up so maybe out of a tiny bit of frustration, yes, I might have said, ‘Well look, it’s only a short spell and there’s a holiday in the middle which he wouldn’t be at work anyway.’ I just okayed it.”
So that’s wonderful, we’re in his 11 month of his apprenticeship and finally someone says enough is enough. It’s just that he died the day before he made it to that bit of schooling.
It apparently is not that important though – according to NEVILLE GROSE:
“We were aware that he didn’t have the normal level of training from TAFE because of timeline. However, we didn’t consider it a problem due to the fact that we treat all our apprentices – we disregard any training they have had and we train our apprentices as if they have had no training at all...” C18aaaaas P56 L20
Well now that’s a comfort isn’t it?
Just on this – it would appear MR HULL is not far from that notion himself – when asked by Ms Cacas whether in relation to the block of training Daniel had missed and whether the work on the HB and more specifically the work he was doing on the day of the accident, would it have had any effect in what he was going to learn:
P928 L13 – I’d suggest not, in fact some would go to think that by not going to school, he was exposed to more machining...’
That demonstrates an amazing arrogance. I can’t even begin to fathom how these men can take this attitude knowing what they did after the fact.
Actually I found another point that I thought may be worth mentioning in relation to how my son’s apprenticeship was handled.
While we’re on the topic of shifting blame as to who was to organise what, I found it surprising to follow up on some more of FRED HULL’s testimony. Recalling a bundle of documents presented in court we were being shown a comparison in schooling to what the apprentices directly employed by Diemould may have had versus those from the EEAGTS.
P814 L32 – In reference to the additional 3 page statement taken 07/07/2004 bundle C38C this outlines the off-site training programs of Diemould’s directly employed apprentices. This bundle of papers shows the times DAVID WELLING and JASON MALEC were apprentices directly employed by Diemould
“My point of showing that to Rosie at the time was to show the difference between 2 apprentices that were inducted to us and the level of schooling they had through the year compared to the level of schooling that EEAGTS had organised for Daniel Madeley”
I can’t help but wonder why it is that there appeared to be no difficulty in releasing these 2 directly employed apprentices in the very same months that the EEAGTS apprentice, that being Daniel, had been denied authorisation to do his (now exceptionally) overdue subjects at TAFE.
Bundle C38C – Document report from TAFE dated 24th February 2004
DAVID WELLING is cleared for TAFE in the month of February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November 2004.
JASON MALEC is cleared for TAFE in the months of March, May, June, July, September, October, November and December 2004