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One Accident Too Many

Former bar manager, Macleay Borger, was only 28 years old when he lost his eyesight in a workplace accident. It took only a moment and his life changed forever when he was blinded by chemicals used in the beer line cleaning process.

“It was a routine beer line clean, but I got my steps muddled up and did them the wrong way. My face and eyes were spurted with alkaline chemical”, Macleay explains.

“Losing my eye sight was scary. Being able to see is something we take for granted; it’s not until it is taken away that we realise how much we use it and miss it.”

Discovering what’s important

Macleay was hospitalised in Sydney, a long distance from his regional home. Hospitality Employers Mutual (Hospitality) Case Manager, Ben Duncan, realised early on that an important part of Macleay’s recovery was having his family around him.

Newly engaged to be married and father to a toddler, family is an important part of Macleay’s life. “It meant the world that Ben was able to fly my family down and arrange their accommodation. Having them there made my time in hospital 100% better.”

Working with case manager Ben has been a dream, according to Macleay. “He’s a very easy guy to get along with. He has been able to organise anything I need or talk to the right people to set it up.”

Both case manager and injured worker have been able to connect on a level above the injury, explains Ben. “Being a similar age and having similar experiences has enabled us to have much in common. I admire that Macleay has been so positive the whole way through – he’s willing to give anything a go.”

The future journey

“When you have an injury like this it’s not easy to get over but I just keep moving forward. Working is not an option right now but with retraining things will change”, says Macleay.

“If I look at my life in 5 to 10 years, I imagine they’ll be another kid or two. With the way technology is changing, who knows what might happen with my eyesight in the future.”

A lesson learned

It’s devastating when someone has been involved in a life altering injury, but it means we can act immediately to minimise the chance of it ever happening again.

The team at Hospitality have developed a cellar safety program that has resulted in over 300 venues across NSW receiving workplace visits and education in the potentially dangerous process of beer line cleaning.

The program has been developed in conjunction with Safework NSW and Bracton Industries, an Australian based specialist in the design and manufacture of equipment and chemicals. Bracton was awarded Best Workplace Health and Safety Solution at the 2016 SafeWork Awards for their efforts to develop a new non-corrosive chemical to reduce the risk when cleaning beer lines.

“With training, increased awareness and non-hazardous chemicals, we hope that serious injuries relating to this process in the hospitality industry will become a thing of the past”, says Marilyn Jukes, Risk Manager with Hospitality Employers Mutual.