A WORKSAFE investigation into Wednesday’s Delacombe trench collapse, which claimed two lives, is expected to focus on whether the correct safety measures were in place at the site.
The investigation will attempt to discover how the men came to be trapped in metres of rubble after a sewer trench on a Winterfield construction site collapsed.
In a statement, WorkSafe said it understood the men were in a “sewer trench which was approximately 3.2 metres deep” when the incident occurred about 11am.
The probe continued yesterday as investigators re-visited the site. It is not known how long it will take.
Safe Work Australia told The Courier its model said: A trench of at least 1.5m deep must have adequate support by shielding or other comparable means, (like) benching and battering.
“Where a worker enters a trench and there is a risk of engulfment, these control measures should be implemented regardless of the depth of the trench.”
Safe Work Australia said it had developed a national framework for work, health and safety and is responsible for maintaining the model laws. However, it is up to the states to separately implement them.
WorkSafe recommends a series of anti-engulfment measures including; the battering of walls to a safe angle, bench walls to form a series of steps, shoring up the walls to support the sides and to work inside trench shields.
WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety Paul Fowler said the incident was a tragic reminder of why it was so important to ensure all necessary safety measures were in place to control the risks of working in and around trenches.
“This incident is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts are with the family and friends of both men,” Mr Fowler said.
“Trenches are an inherently dangerous work environment. They can and sometimes do collapse with catastrophic consequences, which is why it is so important that employers and contractors ensure that all necessary safety precautions are in place.”
A spokesman for Winterfields parent company Goldfield Group said it would do all it could to assist the investigation.
“Goldfields Group’s thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends affected by this tragedy,” the spokesman said.
“Employees have been offered support through their respective organisations.
“Support has also been extended to Goldfields employees.
“Trenches are an inherently dangerous work environment. They can and sometimes do collapse with catastrophic consequences, which is why it is so important that employers and contractors ensure that all necessary safety precautions are in place.”WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Health and Safety Paul Fowler
Ballarat business Pipecon had been contracted to dig the trenches.
In a statement, Pipecon said “Much to the distress of Pipecon employers and employees this incident has led to the death of two of our colleagues.
“Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of these employees at this difficult time.
“We request that you respect their privacy as they deal with this stressful situation. Further details will be provided by Pipecon when substantiated information is available.”