Pearl Diver's Death Causes Alarm in Australia

Pearl Diver's Death Causes Alarm in Australia

Australia's biggest pearl producer was warned it would have a serious workplace accident or fatality only months before the death of a young pearl diver, a Four Corners investigation reveals.

Jarrad Norton, a former pearl diver with Paspaley Pearls, says that at the end of last year he told the company, "I promise you, I guarantee you, next year you'll have a serious accident or a fatality unless something changes".

His prediction came tragically true at the beginning of this year's pearling season when Melbourne man Jarrod Hampton died in April while diving for Paspaley Pearls off the coast south of Broome.

Mr Hampton, 22, was employed as a drift diver, a job which involves collecting shells from the sea bed while being towed under water from a boat.

In an investigation prompted by Mr Hampton's death, Four Corners raises serious questions about workers' safety in an industry that brings in more than $100 million a year for the family-owned company, Paspaley Pearls.

The program examines the adequacy of rescue equipment, safety procedures and training in the pearling industry which does not follow some standards seen as best practice in most other occupational diving.

The safety warning to Paspaley came last year, after a number of experienced divers quit the company.

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