Anne-Louise Brown –
Images of Western Australia’s pearling industry are romantic, but there is a darker side to the iridescent gems.
Tonight on ABC’s Four Corners, an investigation into the state’s $200 million per annum pearling industry raises questions about work and safety practices and queries whether improved safety measures could help prevent future deaths.
The investigation reveals only months before the death of young pearl diver Jarrad Hampton, Australia’s largest pearl producer, Paspaley Pearls, was warned it risked a serious workplace accident or fatality.
Mr Hampton died in April at the start of this year’s pearling season while diving for Paspaley Pearls off Broome.
Advertisement The 22-year-old was employed as a drift diver, meaning he collected shells from the sea bed while towed under by a boat.
Although he was a qualified scuba instructor, Mr Hampton had never drift dived.
The day he died was his second on the job and the cause of death was drowning.