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Lingering pain of a witness

Stuart Craig of Narrabundah suffered serious post-traumatic stress after he witnessed Ben Catanzariti die following a workplace accident in Kingston.

Stuart Craig of Narrabundah suffered serious post-traumatic stress after he witnessed Ben Catanzariti die following a workplace accident in Kingston. Photo: Melissa Adams

Stuart Craig knew he needed help when he showed up to work on a Monday morning and was overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness.

The Narrabundah man has been a steel fixer in the ACT and throughout NSW for 27 years and seen horrific injuries on work sites before, but when concreter Ben Catanzariti was killed it proved too much to bear.

Mr Catanzariti was working at a Kingston Foreshore construction site one Saturday morning last July when he was struck by a concrete boom and died at the scene.

Mr Craig was just metres from the 21-year-old Griffith man when the boom hit him.

''It's a sound which crosses between a crack and a bang, and being in construction you hear a lot of bangs, you hear a lot of crashes … and even a lot of the blokes we were working with on the day, we've all said it's something that you can't really describe,'' he said.

He and a number of the men nearby ran to the site office to grab paper towels and jumpers to cover the severely injured man, but there was then little to do but wait for ambulance officers to arrive.

Mr Craig said he spent the rest of the weekend feeling fine, but returning to the work site the full impact of what he had witnessed ''hit me like a tonne of bricks''. ''There was nothing that any one of us could have done to change what happened, the outcome or anything, and I ran that through my head, but it was just the emotion,'' he said.

The steel fixer did not want his 12-year-old daughter to witness his pain, so he contacted industry support group the OzHelp Foundation and saw a counsellor the next day, then twice more that week.

Nearly a year later Mr Craig said he was doing much better. ''Once every blue moon the tears come out, but it's going to be something that's going to be there for a long time and life still goes on,'' he said.

Jason Jennings, the head of Construction Charitable Works in the ACT, said trauma and post-traumatic stress were common when there were fatalities in the workplace, but there were still cultural barriers in the construction industry which meant not everyone sought the help they needed. On average four or five people come forward seeking support after an accident, he said, and there was help available for them and their families, through his organisation and OzHelp. ''We're a male-dominated industry. We need to spend more time talking to each other about how we're feeling, and getting into services,'' he said.

7 comments

  • Bravely spoken, Stuart.

    Commenter
    Stephen
    Date and time
    May 31, 2013, 8:02AM
    • Yes, Stuart. Bravely spoken. At least you were there with your mate when he died. Not only armed service veterans get PTSD.

      Commenter
      Badger
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 31, 2013, 9:41AM
  • Hang in their mate. Thank you for being very brave and sharing your pain.

    Commenter
    John
    Date and time
    May 31, 2013, 9:35AM
    • Good on you for facing this pain and getting help rather than just "dealing with it." You and your daughter will benefit. All the best!

      Commenter
      Daniel
      Date and time
      May 31, 2013, 10:50AM
      • Yes, very brave. This is what being a real man is about - owning your feelings and admitting you need outside help rather than just drowning your sorrows every afternoon at the pub.

        Commenter
        Amy
        Date and time
        May 31, 2013, 2:08PM
        • Well done Stuart for taking the stress on and not letting it own you. I hope your story helps someone else take the step to recovery.

          Commenter
          Tired Camel
          Date and time
          May 31, 2013, 4:01PM
          • Great article on every level:

            - speaking out about trauma is important, so that others know that something can be done,
            - great to see an Aussie male being so public about these issues. and
            - it's good to see that there are organisations out there that can help.

            Commenter
            AS
            Location
            Geneva
            Date and time
            May 31, 2013, 6:33PM
            Comments are now closed
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