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Date PostedJuly 13, 2013

White Card Update: Road closed as Collapse is Investigated by Authorities

Engineers for Roads ACT are busy assessing a section of Eastern Valley Way and nearby footpaths after the Belconnen road was closed to the public amidst concerns about the stability of excavations at a nearby construction site which it was feared would cause ground instability and collapse of the road.

According to media reports 2 sections of a construction site near the corner of College Street were closed after engineers raised concerns for a collapse. Their concerns were not unwarranted, last week an excavation area about 2 storeys high collapsed due to heavy rains over the weekend, which caused soil erosion.

The road affected had a lane closed on one of Canberra north’s busiest roads following fears that a landslip on a nearby construction site could result in sections of the road collapsing and injuring members of the public in the process.

Since the death of the 3 pedestrians on a Melbourne north site earlier this year due to a collapse it seems everyone is more sensitive to the issue of collapsing structures. The accident occurred when a large section of brick wall collapsed into the street and 3 innocent pedestrians died in the process, therefore it was important to manage the potential hazard that heavy rainfall could have caused.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe says the president of Engineers Australia advised of the danger which subsequently led to the precaution being taken and a section of the road being closed. WorkSafe ACT is also concerned a tower crane on the site could be destabilized.

This is what happened according to a post on Canberratimes.com.au:

LI-art-wd-eastern-valley-way-20130605201435549122-620x349Two sections of the $80 million Linq Apartments construction site near the corner of College Street were closed after Engineers Australia raised the potential for a serious collapse in the two-storey dirt excavation area after a soil collapse last week.

WorkSafe ACT had already stopped work on the site, despite the collapse occurring on an internal section of the five-metre excavation pit, away from the road.

Construction, Forestry, Mining, Energy Union ACT representatives made several complaints to WorkSafe in recent weeks and a protest at the site saw work halted, with Australian Federal Police called to remove 25 protesters.

No arrests were made.

Concerns that the excavation work’s ”zone of influence” extended under the busy roadway led to immediate action to cease traffic access.

On Wednesday, Creative Building Services director John Katsanevakis hit back at claims he said were ”mischievous and just plain wrong”, including that workers had been put at risk. He said some unnecessary visits to the site by union representatives had slowed progress on the project.

”Three engineers have confirmed the integrity of the site and construction processes,” he said.

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/belconnen-road-closed-as-collapse-investigated-20130605-2nqu9.html#ixzz2VoDhoIY2

This video details what happened:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-03/soil-collapse-prompts-questions/4730626

It is vitally important that a qualified and competent engineer be engaged to ensure that excavations are stable. Workers must make sure to stick to these specifications precisely.The weather also plays an important role in the stability. Workers should take note of weather conditions especially during periods of heavy rain or wind which can both interfere with the stability of structures or excavation walls. Workers can look out for weather reports to determine whether they need to take extra precautions to guard against this.

 

Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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