‘Stoked’: QAL contractor can access site any time now
DARREN JEACOCKE was "stoked" when he was inducted as a contractor at Queensland Alumina Limited earlier this month.
Mr Jeacocke, who has been wheelchair-bound for 15 years after a BMX accident, is one of the directors of Queensland Aerial, a drone company which he shares with his brother Cory.
The pair have worked with QAL since 2015 but the recent induction means Darren can be on site at any time.
"If I've ever needed to go on site it's just as a visitor and this just makes it a whole lot more seamless … I can just rock up with the crew and run operations," Mr Jeacocke said.
He said the induction process was pretty easy having been inducted to other industry sites before.
"There's a fair few restrictions … I can't go where stairs or ladders are, wet ground or drop offs," he said.
" (QAL) have made sure I'm safe and whoever is safe with me."
Mr Jeacocke said QAL have always been accommodating to his disability.
"I've always loved dealing with QAL," he said.
"I'll rock up there, and they'll be like 'Hm wheelchair' and they'll always find a way for a problem … They'll build me a ramp if they need too."
Mr Jeacocke was not the first man in a wheelchair to be inducted as a contractor on site, with QAL welcoming a Rio Tinto employee for training sessions in recent years.
QAL Engineering manager Roger Stewardson said QAL supports an inclusive and diverse workforce that's representative of Gladstone's community.
"We embrace opportunities to employ talented, local individuals whose skills and experience deliver competitive advantage to our operations," he said.
"We've worked with Darren in a visitor capacity. We're delighted to welcome him on-board as a regular contractor providing expertise in drone operations."
Mr Jeacocke said he was grateful to QAL and everyone for making the induction possible.
"It's crazy how normal you are treated around here - even I forget sometimes," he said.
"I don't know if it's a small town thing."