The collapsed wall at the site of the old Royal Park Hotel. Photo: Jason South The collapsed wall. Photo: Jason South
The scene of the wall collapse. Photo: @KristyMayr7, via Twitter
The best system Victoria has to protect the public from dangerous city construction sites failed spectacularly on Wednesday, just three years after the Swanston Street wall collapse killed three people.
Safety authorities have come under fire over a potentially fatal incident in North Melbourne, where a brick wall crashed down onto the footpath less than 24 hours after the site was audited.
The wall – on the partly demolished site of the former Royal Park Hotel in North Melbourne – came down soon after 9am on Wednesday.
Falling bricks narrowly missed members of the public near the corner of Queensberry and Howard streets, including a female pedestrian pushing a pram, but no injuries were reported.
Victoria’s Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said its officials had shut down the Royal Park Hotel work site earlier in the week and halted demolition due to grave safety concerns.
Inspectors from WorkSafe and Melbourne City Council were alerted and attended the site on Tuesday, deeming certain areas unsafe.
The council confirmed that the site’s owner and demolition contractor had been slapped with an emergency order to secure the site within 48 hours – mandating fencing to “protect passing pedestrians”, temporary road signs and traffic controllers – along with a number of other compliance notices.
But union officials on Wednesday said safety authorities’ response was “farcical” and demolition works on other parts of the site appeared to have been allowed to proceed immediately.
“Had there been a fatality the blame would have been squarely at the feet of WorkSafe and the demolition contractor,” union secretary John Setka said.
“There was seven WorkSafe inspectors chasing their tails, unable to respond to the dangers that are still present … the footpaths and roads remained open to traffic and pedestrians, electricity wasn’t cut off and had the rest of the wall come down we would have faced another disaster.”
Mr Setka – who was one of the first on the scene of the nearby 2013 wall collapse and attempted to rescue victims from the rubble – said “things have to change”.
“It should never have happened … there is simply no deterrence for companies who don’t care about safety.”
WorkSafe Victoria said an investigation had been launched into the circumstances surrounding collapse.
The Brunswick-based demolition contractor, Sustainable Demolition, has refused to comment to Fairfax Media. This site shut yesterday by CFMEU & opened by Worksafe! Incredible no one was killed. Avoid North Melbourne! #auspolpic.twitter南京夜网/giqYzu56mh— John Setka (@CFMEUJohnSetka) April 19, 2016
In 2013, teenage siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones, of Melbourne, and Frenchwoman Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, were killed when a brick wall and advertising hoarding at a building site on Swanston Street collapsed.
Alexander, 19, died while trying to shield his 18-year-old sister from the falling debris.
The site’s owner and principle contractor, Grocon, was later fined $250,000 over serious safety failures at the site.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.