Workers who faced routine drug screening were resorting to buying a range of legal drugs for recreational use that were "most unsafe", State Coroner Alastair Hope warned yesterday at an inquest into the death of a fly-in, fly-out worker.
Mr Hope was handing down his findings into the death of Busselton father-of-two Mark Andrew Dahlenburg, who died from a brain haemorrhage after mixing a stimulant, known as DMAA, into his beer in April last year at a workmate's house. The coroner said Mr Dahlenburg, 41, had been "naive" about the toxic effects, dosage and purity of DMAA, which is found in diet and sports supplements and was developed as a nasal decongestant.
Mr Hope concluded Mr Dahlenburg's "tragic" death was caused by the substance.
The inquest was told mining workers used DMAA because it was not tested for in routine urine tests.
"It appears in a context where routine drug screening is taking place for many workers a range of drugs is being purchased for recreational use, which while legal in the context of their original purpose, are most unsafe in the context of recreational use," Mr Hope said.
He was told DMAA was believed to produce amphetamine-like effects. The inquest was told medical experts knew little about the side effects of DMAA and people who ended up in hospital after taking the drug were unwittingly conducting human trials on themselves.
Mr Hope said Mr Dahlenburg, who the inquest was told declined his friend's offer to take him to hospital when he became sick, might have taken up to 40 times the recommended dose of the powder, which he bought over the internet.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Wednesday banned the sale, supply or use of DMAA.
Mr Dahlenburg's wife Jacqui Webb said although the DMAA ban did not change her family's situation, she hoped something positive came from their ordeal.