Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pedestrian Safety Deaths Three Fatalities Grocon to plead guilty over fatal Swanston Street wall collapse Melbourne CBD The Age Nov 12th 2014 Community Safety



The Pedestrians were in the right place, on the footpath, 

and had every reason to believe they would be safe from collapsing walls

as they ought to have been


Pete Dowe
Road Safety Advocate
March 29th 2013



Grocon to plead guilty over fatal Swanston Street wall collapse

'Our school is grieving'

In the immediate aftermath of the fatal wall collapse, the principal of Montmorency Secondary College paid tribute to former students Bridget and Alexander Jones.
Construction giant Grocon has said it will plead guilty to one criminal charge over a wall collapse at a building site that killed three people.
One arm of the Grocon group on Wednesday said it would plead guilty to a charge of failing to keep a safe workplace, following the deaths of Alexander Jones, 19, his sister, Bridget, 18, and French academic Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, who were killed in Swanston Street on March 28 last year.
However Melbourne Magistrates Court heard the Victorian Workcover Authority could not prove Grocon caused the wall to collapse, but instead said Grocon failed to keep a safe workplace.
The scene after the deadly collapse.
The scene after the deadly collapse. Photo: Mal Fairclough
Mr Jones, Ms Jones and Ms Fiawoo were outside Grocon's building site at the CUB Brewery in Carlton when the wall collapsed on them in high winds.
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The plea came at the start of a committal hearing in Melbourne.
Three arms of the Grocon group – Grocon Pty Limited, Grocon Builders (Vic) Pty Ltd and Grocon (Victoria Street) Pty Ltd – were each charged with one count of failing to ensure "persons other than your employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising from the conduct of your undertaking" and one count each of failing to ensure a workplace was safe and without risks to health.
Bridget Jones, left, and her brother Zander.
Bridget Jones, left, and her brother Zander.
The court heard Grocon (Victoria Street) Pty Ltd would plead guilty to the second charge, while Workcover would withdraw the other charge and each of the four charges against the other arms of the construction group.
Aussie Signs, the company contracted to hang an advertising hoarding 80.5 metres long and 3.2 metres high on the masonry wall, could also plead guilty, the court has heard.
Aussie Signs faces one count each of the same two charges against the Grocon companies.
Marie-Faith Fiawoo.
Marie-Faith Fiawoo.
A lawyer for Grocon applied that the case be heard before a magistrate, where a smaller penalty would apply. The court has adjourned while talks continue.
In documents previously released by the court, Workcover alleges the companies failed to obtain a building permit for the advertising hoarding, failed to produce a detailed design for how the wall and hoarding were to be braced, did not obtain a risk assessment on how wind would affect the wall, and did not have a structural engineer assess the wall once the hoarding was attached.
Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg told the court the demolition works at the building site left the wall unshelled and vulnerable to high winds.
But he told the court an expert had said the wall could have collapsed within five years even if the advertising hoarding was not attached to it.
The court heard Aussie Signs could plead guilty if charges were to be heard by a magistrate.
The State Coroner is also scheduled to investigate the wall collapse, but only after the criminal proceedings have finished.
More to come
With Nick Toscano


Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/grocon-to-plead-guilty-over-fatal-swanston-street-wall-collapse-20141112-11ktzi.html#ixzz3Iujv48NR


http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/grocon-to-plead-guilty-over-fatal-swanston-street-wall-collapse-20141112-11ktzi.html



Grocon 'failed to conduct safety checks' before fatal Swanston Street wall collapse: WorkSafe

The site of Swanston Street wall collapse.
The site of Swanston Street wall collapse. Photo: Joe Armao
Construction giant Grocon failed to perform key safety checks and obtain a building permit for an 80-metre hoarding it had attached to a wall which later collapsed and killed three people, Victoria's workplace safety watchdog alleges.
Grocon failed to produce a detailed design for how the wall and hoarding were to be braced, court documents allege, did not obtain a risk assessment on how wind would affect the wall or have a structural engineer assess the wall after the hoarding had been attached.
The Grocon group faces six charges and signage firm Aussie Signs faces two charges over the collapse of a wall in Swanston Street in which siblings Bridget, 18, and Alexander Jones, 19, and French academic Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, died in March last year.

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Alexander Jones.
Alexander Jones.
The three were walking past Grocon's building site at the CUB Brewery in Carlton when the wall collapsed on them in high winds on March 28 last year.
Aussie Signs had been contracted to hang advertising signs on the wall.
Grocon representatives appeared before Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday for a short administrative hearing, while Aussie Signs appeared in court for a similar hearing on Wednesday, during which magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg released documents tendered to the court.

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Bridget Jones.
Bridget Jones.
Three arms of the Grocon group – Grocon Pty Limited, Grocon Builders (Vic) Pty Ltd and Grocon (Victoria Street) Pty Ltd – are each charged with one count of failing to ensure "persons other than your employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising from the conduct of your undertaking" and one count each of failing to ensure a workplace was safe and without risks to health.
Aussie Signs faces one count each of the same two charges.
The documents allege the companies failed to ensure the site was safe between October 11, 2011 and March 28 last year.

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Killed ... Research fellow Marie-Faith Fiawoo.
Marie-Faith Fiawoo. Photo: Monash University
According to WorkSafe’s documents, a Grocon employee on October 6, 2011, engaged Aussie Signs to construct an advertising hoarding 80.5 metres long and 3.2 metres high and attach it to a masonry wall on the site’s Swanston Street boundary.
The hoarding was constructed and attached to the wall between October 10 and October 14 of that year, the documents state.
‘‘The attachment of the hoarding to the wall was unsafe,’’ it continues.
‘‘During the relevant period, it exposed persons in the vicinity of the wall and hoarding who were not employees of Grocon Pty Limited to risks to their health and safety.’’
The documents say it was ‘‘reasonably practicable’’ for Grocon and Aussie Signs to have reduced or eliminated the risk. But, WorkSafe alleges, the companies failed to:
- Produce a detailed design for the hoarding before it was installed, including details on how the advertising board was to be attached and how the wall was to be braced;
- Obtain a risk assessment on how wind would affect the wall once the hoarding was attached;
- Obtain assessment from a structural engineer on the wall’s capacity to bear the hoarding;
- Get a building permit for the hoarding;
- Ensure the hoarding did not increase the wind loading on the wall;
- Have an engineer approve bracing that could have countered any increase on the wall’s wind loading;
- Reduce the size of the wall and build a ‘‘more robust’’ wall that could have held the signage; and
- Have a structural engineer assess the wall after the signage was attached.
WorkSafe alleged in the documents that the Grocon entities and Aussie Signs did not ‘‘take any of the above measures to eliminate or reduce the risk to health and safety of persons who were not its employees’’.
Nor did the parties have anyone else take any safety measures.
Grocon and Aussie Signs are scheduled to return to court on August 25.
The court heard lawyers had discussed setting mid-November as a tentative date for a committal hearing, but that that date was unsuitable for Grocon representatives.
The names of four Grocon employees who are potential witnesses in the committal and a coronial inquiry remain suppressed.
The matter is expected to return to the Coroners Court later this month for a directions hearing, but an inquest would only begin once criminal proceedings had been completed.


Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/grocon-failed-to-conduct-safety-checks-before-fatal-swanston-street-wall-collapse-worksafe-20140521-38nxt.html#ixzz32WCVZGCP


http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/grocon-failed-to-conduct-safety-checks-before-fatal-swanston-street-wall-collapse-worksafe-20140521-38nxt.html


The Pedestrians were in the right place, on the footpath, 

and had every reason to believe they would be safe from collapsing walls

as they ought to have been


Pete Dowe
Road Safety Advocate
March 29th 2013


Criminal charges could be laid over Swanston Street wall collapse, Coroners Court told

The Australian
wall collapse
The frantic moments after the wall collapse.
UPDATE: A CORONIAL inquest into a fatal wall collapse that killed three people in Melbourne could be delayed for years.
A Victorian Coroners Court preliminary hearing on the collapse at the Grocon building site has been told the possibility of criminal or civil prosecution is still being explored by WorkSafe, the City of Melbourne, the Building Commission and Victoria Police.
State Coroner Ian Gray said he was aware that a prosecution could delay the coronial inquest for two years or more, which could frustrate the grieving families.
"I will want to know as soon as possible ... whether there will be the prosecution of anybody,'' he said.
Wall collapse victims
Wall collapse victims Bridget and Alexander Jones, and French woman Dr Marie-Faith Fiawoo.
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"I will want some time frame on when I will know that."
A 15m-long section of the brick wall fell onto Swanston Street in the inner city on March 28, killing pedestrians Dr Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, of France, and local teenage siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Sergeant Jen Brumby, said the inquest would explore the construction of the wall and the materials used, a wooden board that was fixed to the wall, and whether a permit for erecting that board had been sought.
Wall collapse tributes
Tributes at the site where siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones died along with Marie-Faith Fiawoo. Picture: Andrew Brownbill
The weather at the time of the collapse would also be examined.
The hearing heard that criminal charges could be laid over the fatal wall collapse.
Counsel representing five parties involved in the inquest into the deaths appeared before Mr Gray this morning for a directions hearing regarding the scope of the inquiry and updates on separate investigations into the tragedy.
Those interested parties are WorkSafe, construction company Grocon, City of Melbourne, the Building Commission and the family of one of the victims, French student Marie-Faith Fiawoo.
A barrister also appeared on behalf of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to make an application for leave to appear at the inquest.
In his opening remarks, Mr Gary expressed his sympathies and condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims.
Alex was trying to shield his sister from the falling bricks and debris in Swanston St.
Separate investigations into the tragedy are being conducted by WorkSafe, Grocon and Victoria Police on behalf of the Coroner.
Today's hearing was told that investigations were still on going and there was a possibility criminal charges could be laid over the deaths.
Peter Rozen, representing the Fiawoo family, raised concerns about potential criminal charges causing possible long delays to the imminent inquest.
Mr Gray informed the relevant investigative bodies he wanted regular updates on the status of their inquiries and to be informed as soon as possible about any potential criminal charges.
Sgt Jenny Brumby, assisting the coroner, told the hearing Acting Sgt Brooke Manley was in the process of compiling a brief of evidence including written witness statements and photographic and video evidence.
Sgt Brumby said the brief would include material relating to:
* A history of the site
* A history of the wall
* Details about a hoarding attached to the wall and regulations about its positioning
* A history of inspections carried out
* Details, including expert opinion, about the collapse
Neil Clelland, representing the CFMEU, made an application for the union to appear as an interested party at the inquest.
Mr Clelland submitted the union had a "real interest" to appear due to relevant issues surrounding construction site safety.
He told the court CFMEU members were on site prior to the wall collapse and some were first on the scene straight after the tragic collapse.
Mr Gray asked for written submissions from the CFMEU.
The inquest has been adjourned to a date to be fixed.





Two dead, one injured in Vic wall collapse

A SWARM of people dug through bricks and rubble but could not save two pedestrians crushed when a wall collapsed on a busy Melbourne street.
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A man and a woman, believed to be in their late teens, were killed when a 15-metre long section of brick wall fell on Swanston Street in Carlton.
A 19-year-old woman suffered life-threatening injuries in the collapse on Thursday afternoon.
Witnesses say passers-by dug desperately through the rubble to help the people trapped underneath.
"I just frantically ran across and started digging because I could see their head and half their torso out, so I was frantically taking the bricks off her," Martin Setka told AAP.
"The whole wall just gave way."
Another witness, Jonathan Lian, said the scene resembled a war zone.
Mr Lian was sitting in a cafe opposite when the wall collapsed, and came out to see people running towards the wall.
"It was really bad. It was like a war zone," he said.
"There was dust everywhere, and they were trying to dig people out. It was like chaos."
Inspector Ian Lindsay said it appeared that strong wind gusts had caused the wall to collapse.
"It appears they've just been pedestrians in the wrong place at the wrong time when the wall has collapsed," he told reporters.
He said police were yet to confirm the identity of the people killed.
The collapse occurred at the old Carlton & United brewery site, which is now a vacant building lot owned by Grocon.
The company has said it plans to develop the site, which it purchased in 2006, but no construction work is currently underway.
The site is near Melbourne University and RMIT, but it is not known if any of the three young people were students.
The injured woman has undergone surgery and remains in a critical condition in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

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