– The owner of the Carlton development site where two pedestrians were killed – and – possibly some workers there – could face criminal prosecution if investigators determine the accident was caused by negligence.
Worksafe and detectives from the Melbourne North Crime Investigation Unit are investigating the collapse of a large section of a brick wall into Swanston Street on Thursday.
But union leader John Setka is already blaming construction group Grocon.
“They don’t care about safety, they never have,” said Mr Setka, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union secretary.
“People can say I’m trying to make political mileage out of it. I don’t care. I’ve kept my mouth shut for long enough who it comes to Grocon.”
Mr Setka alleged that in an incident last Monday, a worker on the Myer Emporium site was skewered in the leg by a concrete-reinforcing steel bar.
Another recent incident involved a crane dropping it’s load in strong winds, he said.
A Grocon spokeswoman confirmed that the crane incident had taken place but no one was harmed.
Grocon had no knowledge of an incident at the Myer site, she said.
In February, a crane driver fell 35 metres to his death at the site.
No work was under way at the time of Thursday’s wall collapse at the former Carlton and United Breweries site, which Grocon has earmarked for a massive residential development.
But industry sources say Worksafe is investigating whether the wall was appropriately supported and what role advertising billboards or wind may have played in the incident.
Any prosecution would hinge on investigators finding evidence of negligence on the part of the owners, workers, contractors or managers for any work that was done or failed to be done on the site.
Under the Occupation Health and Safety Act, an employer has a duty to ensure that the public is not exposed to health or safety risks from work sites.
Worksafe can prosecute cases under the states’ various health and safety acts or, in certain circumstances, refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions for prosecution under the Crimes Act.
Mr Setka said staff at the CFMEU office opposite where the accident happened were traumatised.
On the CUB site, Grocon has removed the remaining sections of the brick wall and replaced the wall with wire mesh fencing.
The company was investigating the collapse, spokeswoman Jane Wilson said.
Late Friday, the company issued the following statement: “Grocon will continue to cooperate fully with all authorities to understand how this tragedy occurred – there are one four inquiries under way. It is inappropriate to speculate any further at this stage.
“We are very deeply saddened by the deaths of these two young people and again send our deepest sympathies to their families.”
Earlier, Grocon chief Daniel Grollo expressed his sympathy via social media.
Grocon said the CFMEU have been locked in a power struggle on building sites across the city.
Accidents involving members of the public are rare. But in 2011, Melbourne Bin Hire Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $20,000 after a woman was killed by a reversing skip truck in Essendon North in 2009 – Chris Vedelago & Simon Johanson


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

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