Workplace health and safety regulations are in place to protect each and every person who goes to work on a daily basis but there are still times when accidents can happen. ( Construction Companies require a WH&S Management System. ) One of the scariest incidents in recent memory took place at the construction site of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital last year. One of the 2.7 million litre thermal storage water tanks used at the facility collapsed last October, with the water released in the incident washing a passing car off the road. A further safety investigation has revealed that a worker at the site was also swept up in the accident.
That latter detail was not released to the media at the time of the incident, but after a right to information request was issued by the ABC news outlet, the reasons why it wasn’t now seems to be a little clearer. The fact of the matter is that there appears to have been some confusion at the time regarding the status of the worker, which was seen in emails between Queensland Health and Lendlease, the developer on the project.
The emails indicated that a Lendlease worker had indeed been witness to the accident, but it seemed unclear as to whether he had been swept up in the water or crushed under the falling debris. It was not until all of the debris was cleared away that it became evident that there was in fact no-one trapped underneath. All of these reports were discussed in the emails between the two parties, and it may well have been the uncertainty of the fate of the worker that caused the information not to be delivered to the media at that time.
A second tank on the building was also reported to be heavily damaged in the incident, and was removed shortly afterwards. The six remaining tanks were all drained and left unused until am official safety investigation was conducted to see if they were in fact usable in the future. It was also revealed that parts of the ceiling in the interior of the building were damaged in the accident, and would all have to be rebuilt or replaced.
In talking about the incident, chief executive officer of the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, Kevin Hegarty said that an independent expert was called in to survey the damage and look for potential causes. Lendlease called upon an independent engineer to take a closer look, and it was revealed that design-related causes were at fault in the failure of the tank, and that all of those issues would be addressed when the new tanks were put in place. The tanks that are still in place at the moment are currently not in use, and are waiting to be cleared by an inspector, whose job it will be to decide if and when those tanks go back into operation. It is expected that the clearance for that to happen will be given sooner rather than later.
For a small business of 10 to 50 employees HRB Consulting based on the Sunshine Coast now offers a self audit business safety plan.