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WorkSafe is investigating after a track worker was struck by lightning at a Northam race meeting last year.

Investigation after Northam track worker’s death

WORKSAFE is investigating after the death of Northam Race Club worker Doug Fernihough, who was struck by lightning while working at the race track on Thursday, November 16.

A WorkSafe spokeswoman confirmed the investigation but said there was nothing to make public yet.

The spokeswoman said investigations could take several months and it was really hard to say how long any particular one would take.

“It will take until the inspectors have all the information they need to decide whether there have been any breaches of the Occupational Safety and Health Act,’’ she said.

“The bottom line is that an employer has a general duty of care to provide and maintain a safe work environment for workers.

“Employees also have a duty of care to take care of themselves and others by following instructions and so on.

“So anything that could compromise a safe work environment would be looked at and it would depend on the job the person was doing – it could be just about anything, depending on the potential hazards of the particular job.’’

Doug Fernihough was taken to hospital after the accident but reports on his condition were somewhat confusing as to whether he had been struck by lightning or suffered a heart attack.

Then a week later Racing and Wagering Western Australia chief executive officer Richard Burt said Mr Fernihough had died late on Wednesday, November 22.

Mr Burt said on behalf of the Northam Race Club, RWWA and the broader WA racing fraternity he extended thoughts and heartfelt condolences to Mr Fernihough’s family and friends.

“Doug was a respected member of the WA racing community and his passing will be felt by many within the industry,’’ he said.

The gofundme page In loving memory of Doug Fernihough said he had been working at a mid-week race meeting in Northam when he was struck by lightning, and suffered a heart attack and internal injuries.

“He was initially unresponsive but was then revived and rushed to Royal Perth Hospital in a critical condition,’’ the post said.

“Typical to his nature, Doug put in a good fight, however, was unable to win.

“Doug passed away on November 22 surrounded by his loved ones.’’

By Anita McInnes

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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