The day after a worker drowned in a workplace accident at Marian Weir on June 18, 2010.
The day after a worker drowned in a workplace accident at Marian Weir on June 18, 2010.

Dam given okay before tragedy

GILES Contractors knew that there were structural problems at a worksite surrounded by water at the Marian Weir but was given verbal advice to keep working.

Engineers allegedly advised that because the worksite known as a cofferdam had survived the wet season of 09/10, piles were likely to be safe, but they weren't.

The subcontractors had three men working inside a cofferdam, which is supposed to be a watertight enclosure used in areas that are normally submerged, and which was located on the upstream side of the weir wall.

The cofferdam collapsed on June 18, 2010, and two workers were able to escape but 20-year-old Joshua Blow drowned.

"It was known and obvious that the cofferdam structure was not adequate," WHS prosecutor Trajce Cvetkovski told the Industrial Magistrates Court in Mackay yesterday.

"The correct piling depths had not been reached."

Barrister Paddy Cullinane, for Giles Contractors, said the company relied on the advice of engineers to carry out the work.

"The potential problems with the cofferdam were raised with an engineer, but nothing was done about it," he said.

"There was advice that the job 'could go ahead'.

"A company representative contacted an engineer who said that if the structure had survived the wet season, the toes of the piles were likely to be in rock, and they were prepared to continue working with the structure," Mr Cullinane said.

Since the fatality, Giles Engineering has received several major government and private tenders, including the installation of 46 water beacons between Sarina and Bowen, and installing piles for Newcrest Mining in Papua New Guinea.

Giles Contractors pleaded guilty yesterday to failing to discharge a WHS obligation and Magistrate Damien Dwyer adjourned sentencing to Friday.

Another company involved in the project, Diamond Civil Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to the same charge on August 21 and was fined $100,000. A charge against Sunwater Ltd is yet to be finalised by the court.



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