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Father’s crusade for workplace safety in memory of his son

In a heartfelt appeal for stronger workplace safety practices, Bill Martin, a Safety Advocate with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ), shares his story of insurmountable loss.

The devastating incident that changed Bill’s life forever took place 25 years ago when his son, Tim Martin, a 17-year-old apprentice electrician, was killed in a preventable workplace incident.

Tim was working at height on a cherry picker when it entered the exclusion zone of an overhead powerline; he suffered terrible burns, and his injuries were just too great.

“Tim will never be eighteen”, the haunting words of Bill Martin are a powerful warning to businesses about what can happen as a result of inadequate supervision and training, and why the safety of young workers needs to be considered as the highest priority.

Through his role as a Safety Advocate, Bill Martin recounts the painful loss of his son, who was left in the care of an inexperienced teenage supervisor.

The severe consequences of that supervisor’s oversight led to Tim sustaining flash burns to 95 per cent of his body and saw him endure an agonising month-long battle in hospital that he couldn’t win.

Today, Bill’s mission is to prevent other families from experiencing similar heartbreak, he calls for not only improved training for supervisors but also for young workers to recognise the importance of safety and listening to instructions on the job.

Bill said, “Tim's supervisor was too inexperienced to have had someone's life in their hands - supervisors need training to become good supervisors.

"What happened to Tim was so easily avoidable, it should never have happened.

“Tim should have turned 18 and we should be celebrating another year with him; instead, we’re mourning, honouring, and remembering his energy 25 years on.

“Tim will never be 18.

“No other family should ever experience this pain. No one needs to get the call I did. Please, take the time to train and get experience. You could save a life.”

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland remains committed to improving safety practices across all industries, ensuring that tragic losses like that of Tim Martin are avoided.

Further information

For more information on requesting a safety advocate like Bill Martin to talk with your workplace or school, please visit book a safety advocate.