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Management Side
Family believe Norske Skog contractor helping others when injured

AUSTRALIA (From news reports) -- The family of a man still on life support following the Norske Skog workplace accident say he is a fighter.

Tom Johnson, 22, is in intensive care after being overcome by gas at the Ettamogah paper mill last Thursday.

The exact nature of the accident is being investigated, but Mr Johnson's family believe he was injured as he tried to help other workers.

His father, Rob, said it had been a tough week but the family was buoyed by the support of his friends and colleagues.

"The next steps are getting off life support," he said.

"An enormous number of people have been here to support us all through this, family, friends and work colleagues.

"They've just been fantastic, they've been an awesome crutch to lean on."

His dad, mum, brother and partner have barely left his side since the accident.

His father only slept in his own bed for the first time on Monday night.

"We were there 24/7 until Sunday," Rob said.

"We're just back to visiting hours now.

"He's out of the most dangerous part now and it's just recovery."

The 22-year-old Byawatha man has also been visited by his boss nearly every day.

"Tom is very strong," his dad said.

"He's very stubborn and that's held him in good stead.

"He is a fighter and we're very proud of how well he's done."

One of the men who also helped immediately after the incident visited Tom in hospital on Tuesday.

His father said their actions were "exemplary".

Rob said they had risked their own safety.

"I can't understand why he's not lying in a bed next to Tom," he said.

"There could have been gasses still present.

"That's probably what got Tom into trouble - he was probably trying to recover the first bloke."

His colleagues Lyndon Quinlivan, 35, and Ben Pascall, 28, died in the hours after the incident.

It is still unclear when staff will return to work, but it is unlikely to be before Friday.

Mr Johnson said learning of the accident last week "wasn't a very good feeling".

"We're all positive that he's moving in the right direction," he said.

"He's made a lot of little steps over quite a few days and we're confident he's doing well."

He thanked hospital staff.

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****

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