DOL sets up Grayston Drive bridge collapse inquiry

The SA Department of Labour set up a Johannesburg Grayston Drive bridge collapse inquiry in October 2015.

The DOL announced soon after the collapse, that a Section 32 inquiry would “dig deeper as to the causes and who is to blame for the collapse of scaffolding work into the Grayston Drive pedestrian and cyclist structural bridge collapse that led to the deaths of two people and injury to 19 others.”

Department of Labour Deputy Director-General, Aggy Moiloa said the department was duty bound in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act “to investigate negligence that may have resulted in occupational injuries and deaths of workers.”

The Section 32 Inquiry “will more or less operate like the recent Tongaat Mall Structural Collapse Inquiry, and the Meyersdale House Collapse Inquiry.”

The Grayston Drive bridge collapse construction scene on the day of the disaster (eNCA).
The Grayston Drive bridge collapse construction scene on the day of the disaster (eNCA).

The 14 October 2015 incident at about 15:25, involved a project of the City of Johannesburg, and the Johannesburg Development Agency as clients, who had appointed Royal Haskoning DHV as an agent.

Murray & Roberts is the principal contractor and the supplier of material involved in an incident is Formscaff.

The matter was reported to Bramley Police Station and is being investigated. The Labour Department Chief Inspector, Tibor Szana said the presiding officer would be announced soon.

Szana said the department would not rely on hearsay, innuendos and rumours. The Inquiry may take at least six months, since there were many parties involved in the matter.

The inquiry may result in prosecution based on evidence gathered. The department has served a prohibition notice for work not to proceed on site until all safety and legislative requirements are complied with.

The Grayston Drive pedestrian and cyclist structural bridge collapse Inquiry will focus at least on these issues:

· Responsibility of the client in terms of Construction Regulations
· Responsibility of the principal constructor, and as an employer
· Responsibility of the agent on behalf of the client
· Supplier of materials
· Design.

The Commission will prepare a report of its findings and formulate recommendations to the Labour Minister and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

Meanwhile, reports on the Tongaat Mall Structural Collapse Inquiry, and the Meyersdal Structural Collapse Inquiry, are nearing conclusion, expected in November 2015.

*Source; SA Department of Labour Communication Directorate, Mokgadi Pela

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Edmond Furter

Editor at Sheqafrica.com
Edmond Furter is the editor of Sheqafrica.com. He is a freelance technical journalist, and has won six journalism awards. He specialises in industrial, business, and cultural content in web, journal, and book formats.

8 thoughts on “DOL sets up Grayston Drive bridge collapse inquiry

  1. I See there is no mention of investigating the Inspectors.
    The following are listed to be investigated :
    Responsibility of the client in terms of Construction Regulations
    · Responsibility of the principal constructor, and as an employer
    · Responsibility of the agent on behalf of the client
    · Supplier of materials
    · Design.

    So often in the past disasters, we investigate all manner of things but not he Inspectors.. Always we depend on Inspectors to ensure that rules are followed,.
    certainly we pay for inspectors to do their inspecting and often we hear of inspectors harrasing builders, constructors and even designers. Why are they not held accountable.Not.neseccarily as the only resposible party, but certainly as part of the resposible actors in the chain of responsible parties.

  2. “Johannesburg Development Agency as clients, (who) had appointed Royal Haskoning DHV as an agent.”
    Can “a person who acts as a representative for a client” be a juristic person?
    If so, how does SACPCMP certify an organisation as competent since their registration process for a PrCHS Agent is focussed on the individual’s abilities, experience and qualifications?
    Can an individual take refuge behind the corporate screen in the event of a failure in the Agent’s duty?

    1. RIchard…the general interpretation where ever a law refers to a person, also includes a Juristic person. In the “appointment” there is thus nothing in error. When it comes to the execution of the duties of the appointment, it remains the juristic person’s duty to comply with all relevant laws. This means that however the “Agent” has appointed to perform the function, must be registered with the SACPCMP. Adding to this, the project started prior to the DOL latest exemption, and for all intended purposes the “registration” may be irrelevant as I doubt the project exceeded the threshold of R130 million. As to the “certification” by the SACPCMP, they do not declare juristic persons competent; only individuals. The PCMP Act allows for a non-registered person to perform the work of a registered person if such work is done in association with a registered person who takes the final responsibility. Be that as it may, we also need to focus on the purpose of the OHSAct and the CR’s. If the client did not mandate their designer to sign-ff and inspect the works, the agent automatically becomes liable. The question needs to be asked, whether the agent had any knowledge of the designer’s mandate? If the client’s appointed designer was mandated to perform the functions in regulation 6(1), then the agent is not.
      Lastly, the individual acting as the Pr.CHSA will always be personally liable under the CR’s and not the juristic person appointed as such. There is no obligation in terms of the CR’s that an agent as to appoint a registered person. That obligation lies with the client in CR5(7). If the client failed to assure this was in fact the case, the client is liable.
      This investigation will hopefully highlight the need for a revision of the construction regulations to close some major gaps between practice and principle. I would love to see the DOL succeeding with a prosecution in this case, but I doubt it. It is time the CR’s gets tested in court; specifically R5 and 6. At best they might be able to pressure someone to pay an admission of guilt fine.

  3. Why do the inspectors have to be investigated, if they are not doing their work, their management ought to address that matter. As indicated, the main role players will be investigated. Flowing from that investigation, should the need arise to investigate other persons/suppliers associated with that specific project, I’m sure DOL will, in the interests of fairness investigate those aspects. Do we have to be policed at every turn to ensure we follow the laws, definitely not. As individuals, we need to know our responsibilities and act accordingly. People take their chances, but, when something goes wrong, they must face the music.

    1. Yes, this is a ridiculous argument. If we investigate the inspectors, who then investigate the investigators investigating the inspectors? Seriously!

  4. I agree to disagree,

    I do agree that the Agents must be in the process and must also be investigated, because he has the individual sign off and over see the Project as per the SACPCMP process. Form what I can understand.

    I would really hope that we can Speed up the process of doing the investigation as we would have more information on how to prevent future accidents/ incidents.

    Would really think when they done that they should do a seminar / workshop and the whole process so that others can learn from the tragic mistakes.

    1. Hi

      With respect to the Agent, it really boils down to the service agreement between the Agent and the client. The client would either accept of reject standard services and deliverables contractually, and the areas of the CR where the client wishes to keep control.. If the Client for example wants the agent to sign off the designs as safe and completed e.g. R6(1)(j), it would then be a matter of matter of who is accountable when. or for temporary works the same may be contracted, we don’t know in this case.

      So lets see how it pans out

      Regards
      Shane

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