Patrizia Cassaniti will bring her fight for better workplace safety standards to Newcastle.
In April, her son, Christopher, was crushed and suffocated to death when a nine-storey scaffolding tower collapsed on top of him at a Macquarie Park site in Sydney.
Patrizia has since pushed for justice through a campaign called #ChristophersLaw, which will give all workers assurance that they have the right, without being persecuted, to remove themselves from unsafe situations and to speak out when they believe they are in danger.
The proposed law allows workers to do so without being victimised or fearful of losing their jobs; protects workers from dying or getting injured; and ensures all safety officers appointed to large-scale construction sites are independent – not employees of the builder.
“I promise I’ll continue until it’s done,” Patrizia says.
“Christopher, and all the others who have died at work, will not have died in vain.”
Police investigations into the incident are ongoing, but the Cassaniti family hope to make a difference even before these have been completed
Patrizia and her husband, Rob, have also campaigned for the introduction of better industrial manslaughter charges in NSW to match those already in place in other states.
Under Victorian and Queensland legislation, employers face fines of almost $16 million or $10 million respectively for industrial manslaughter, while individuals responsible for negligently causing death can receive jail sentences of up to 20 years.
“We feel devastated and empty by the loss of our beautiful boy,” Patrizia says.
“While nothing can bring our son back, we don’t want his death to be just another statistic.”
The NSW Regional Safety Conference & Expo will take place at NEX Wests City today and tomorrow (Thursday 4 and Friday 5 July).
It is dedicated to showcasing the importance of work, health and safety (WHS) in Australia, with Patrizia adding to a list of industry professionals who will speak on the subject. The event’s founder, Sarah-Jane Dunford, says she is thrilled to have Patrizia as a speaker.
“Her story is so heartbreaking, but her mission to bring forth justice for her son and others who’ve been through a similar situation is truly admirable,” Ms Dunford says.
“I don’t think there will be a dry eye in the house after we hear Patrizia’s story, and that sends a really powerful message, which has been our aim from day one.”