Long time readers of this blog will fondly remember the work of George Robotham who passed away suddenly in 2013, leaving behind an incredible legacy. Many of George’s articles (like this one) mention the extraordinary work of Geoff McDonald – George’s friend and mentor. Sadly, Geoff passed away last week after a long illness. This Vale was written by another of his many friends and supporters, Cip Corva, who wrote to me saying:
I am very sad at losing a wonderful friend and mentor of many years. Geoff leaves an enduring legacy of his life and dedicated work in Safety Engineering that will continue into the future. A quote from Geoff’s book: “I would now like my epitaph to say: Not only did he seek to understand, but also sought (and found) good theory”.
The “Good Theory” is based on safety science and person damaging energy; understanding Class I personal damage; and Essential (and Contributing Factors) methodology, which assist us in developing effective preventative measures. The way to go in order to improve Occupational Safety and Health.
“Safety is Hidden in Plain View” (quote from G. McDonald)
All the best and stay safe and healthy
Vale Geoff McDonald
Geoff had an extraordinary career in the field of health and safety. Spanning more than five decades, his longstanding passion for workplace health and safety reflected a deep commitment to improving safety outcomes in the Australian workforce. Known amongst friends and colleagues for his brilliant mind, kind spirit and tireless will to make a difference, Geoff leaves behind an indelible personal and professional legacy.
As a fresh-faced Engineering graduate, Geoff compiled the most comprehensive study of Australian tractor fatalities ever undertaken. In the process, he pioneered influential legislative changes with respect to rollover protective structures for tractors, which flowed throughout Australia and undoubtedly saved many lives.
In the 1970s, he became an expert witness to the Queensland Supreme Court, presenting factual information on serious industrial accidents. For 25 years, Geoff’s testimony, philosophies, models and conceptual thinking had a substantial influence on the development of Common Law in Queensland.
Geoff’s consultancy, Geoff McDonald & Associates, has more than 6000 litigation cases on file – at least 4000 of those cases are work-related. Geoff provided evidence to courts in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales, and prepared reports for Tasmanian cases. He also provided evidence to the Federal Court of the United States.
Geoff’s steadfast dedication to the field of health and safety, coupled with his deep concern for the plight of those permanently injured at work, made him a beacon of inspiration for all OHS professionals and practitioners. In his lifetime, Geoff wrote over 170 academic papers in his field of work; his curiosity and desire to learn never stopped. As Geoff’s brother, Ken McDonald recalls, “It was an impressive effort from a kid who grew up on the Darling Downs.“
Geoff’s research had far-reaching effect in improving Australian workplace health and safety. He was awarded the ‘First Fellow’ of the Safety Institute of Australia, and received accolades from the Ergonomics Society of Australia in 1992 for his outstanding contributions.
In May this year, Geoff was awarded the SIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The SIA wishes to honour Geoff McDonald, and acknowledge his tremendous contribution to the field of health and safety. He was an exceptional individual who will be sincerely missed.