MUA: Pearl Diver’s Death Avoidable

MUA: Pearl Diver's Death Avoidable
Jarrod Hampton/Facebook

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is calling for better regulation of the pearl diving industry after Paspaley Pearling Company was today issued with criminal charges over the death of pearl diver Jarrod Hampton off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia in 2012.


WorkSafe charged Paspaley with failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment for its employees following the death of Mr. Hampton, 22, on just his second day of work as a drift diver.

Paspaley Pearls now faces a maximum penalty of $200,000 in an industry that brings in more than $100 million a year for the family-owned company.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray said it was still unclear why Paspaley and other pearl diving companies are allowed to self-regulate when the rest of the commercial diving sector – deep sea offshore, scientific and onshore – have proper set rules on work standards and safety.

“The WorkSafe investigation again highlights the lack of regulation in the pearl diving industry and we don’t understand why the company has been able to get away with this for so long.

Mr. Hampton’s death could have been avoided with appropriate training mechanisms set down by regulation but the pearling industry has no rules attached because they are allowed to self-regulate.

Quite clearly self-regulation does not work – there have been other deaths and plenty of instances of injury caused by poor safety standards and work practices.

 There needs to be an inquiry into why the pearling industry has been allowed to self-regulate and the government and its agencies should bring them into line with everyone else,” Mr. Bray said.

MUA Occupational Health and Safety Organiser Linda Morich said it was time the industry was cleaned up.

“They don’t want to come into line with the rest of the industry for safety and regulation – it’s only pearling which escapes,” Ms. Morich said.

“Not only is this a tragedy which could have been avoided but it is now more than two years since a Four Corners investigation shone a spotlight on the pearl diving industry in the wake of Mr Hampton’s death and still nothing has been done.” 

Press Release; July 31, 2014

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