The devastated mother of a teenage boy who fell 12 metres to his death during a building refurbishment has pleaded for tighter regulations on WA worksites, including the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws.

Regan Ballantine was one of five families to give evidence yesterday to a Senate committee examining theprevention, investigation and prosecution of industrial deaths in Australia.

Ms Ballantine’s 17-year-old son Wesley was killed in January 2017 when he fell through a skylight while working on the commercial fit-out of international clothing retailer H&M’s Perth city store.

He was not wearing a safety harness.

Speaking publicly for the first time since her son’s death, Ms Ballantine said she had decided to tell her heartbreaking story in the hope it could trigger improvements to WA workplace safety laws and regulations.

"I am seeking reforms to increase the safety and training requirements for workers to work on a construction site, to implement an anonymous reporting portal so that workers can feel empowered to report safety concerns and to include industrial manslaughter as a criminal offence," she said.

In a written submission, Ms Ballantine detailed a conversation she had with her son about safety concerns at the site eight days before his death, during which he told her, "Mum, someone is going to get killed on that worksite".

Ms Ballantine said when she asked why, Wesley replied: "Because they’re hell reckless, mum. No one wears a harness."

Too scared to report the concerns to her son’s employer at the time, Ms Ballantine said his death highlighted the need for an anonymous tip-off hotline for workplace safety matters.

"It might be fear of retribution for being called out as a whistleblower or for someone as young as my son, you don’t want to be a dobber," she said. "I didn’t know who to call. I couldn’t call his boss, imagine his mum calling up? Had a tip-off line been in place, I believe my son would have been here today."

Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union State secretary Mick Buchan said the union was committed to improving the safety of workers. Mr Buchan called for more funding to bolster the under-resourced WorkSafe and make it a more "proactive authority".

"To listen to those five families that live forever with the loss of their loved one due to a workplace fatality it just beyond explanation," he said. "We have seen too many lives wasted and we see the laws that are in place now act as no deterrent."

Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said the State Government had toughened penalties for businesses that breached workplace safety laws and was looking at other measures.


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