Construction OHS Assessment
Read through the following case study and complete task 1 and task 2.
On a Thursday afternoon, a free standing brick wall collapsed on a construction site and fatally crushed injuries two men, Whelan and Twomey, who were performing excavation and filling work on the site adjacent to the brick wall. They were employed by a labour hire company which had supplied their labour to Byrne Civil Engineering Constructions Pty Ltd (BCEC) for it to perform excavation work under a sub-contract to Consolidated Constructions Pty Ltd (CC).
Develco Project was the developer of an office/factory complex at the subject site and it made a contract with CC as the principal builder to construct the complex. CC contracted BCEC to dig strip footings, excavate pads and trim existing footings for retaining walls at the site. Develco engaged engineering consultants, van der Meer Bonser Pty Ltd, to undertake structural design and documentation for buildings and earthworks.
Whelan was a 25 year old graduate civil engineer with approx. 12 months field experience. Twomey was a 20 year old labourer with approx 12 mths experience in civil construction. At 3pm on 15 December the foundations supporting a 4.1 metre high free-standing brick wall located on the boundary at the south west corner of the site collapsed onto them.
Van der Meer Bonser did not undertake a site survey or visual inspection of the site prior to commencing the design work as it relied upon a geotechnical report and survey earlier carried out by others, and its contract was for design only.
Several months before the wall collapse BCEC commenced earthworks under the supervision of CC’s site engineer, Taylor, who was responsible for checking the reduced levels of the bulk earthworks to the buildings. Taylor was a 24 year old graduate engineer with no previous experience in excavation work. 3 weeks before the collapse CC commenced building works. Bonser attended the site and examined existing footings encroached on the north western boundary of the site. CC instructed BCEC to carry out detailed footing excavations along the northern and western boundaries. This entailed the removal of sub-soil foundations to approx. 600 to 1000mm below the top of the existing footing.
On the day of the collapse the CC site manager instructed BCEC to commence detailed excavations in the south west corner of the site. Those excavations included work on a footing for a reinforced masonry retaining wall in the vicinity of the brick wall. Whelan and Twomey worked with a third man who was excavating using BCEC’s 21 tonne Hyundai excavator. Approx 300mm of soil was removed along the south western boundary but in the area adjacent to the brick wall only approx 150 mm was removed. During the process sewerage lines were hit causing some seepage. The excavations commenced at 1pm and the collapse occurred at approx. 3pm. Prior to the collapse the excavator operator had last observed Whelan standing at the base of the wall and Twomey digging at the toe of its footing with a shovel.
Q1.1. Describe which entities had the greatest ability to manage and control the specific situation and why this was the case.
Q1.2. Which three corporate entity/s and would you most likely prosecute and in what order of responsibility would you rank them? In your answer link the defendants and the Sections of the Victorian OHS Act 2004 under which you would prosecute them.
Q1.3. State your reason for using those Sections mentioned in Q2. There may be multiple Sections and/or multiple defendants.
Marks will be awarded only for correctly identified defendant/s and section/s – not for the volume of defendants. The explanation for the choice of defendant/s and Section/s will assist in assessing your reason for the prosecution/s and understanding of the OHS Act.
Q2.1 Describe, the specific actions that Consolidated Constructions (CC), as the Principal Contractors, would need to undertake to satisfy the requirements of the Victorian OHS Regulations (Construction) 2007, and the broader requirements of the Victorian OHS Act 2004.
Q2.2. Describe the practical and preventative actions needed to ensure this type of incident can never occur again.
Q2.3. Describe who will need to manage and control each of these corrective actions to ensure they are achieved, and what that management and control process would look like, including the evaluation of its successful implementation.