DOL to report on M1 bridge collapse

The SA Department of Labour will unveil its preliminary report on the M1 bridge collapse disaster on 28 October.

The Grayston Drive pedestrian bridge collapse over the M1 highway in Johannesburg on 14 October 2015, kiled two and injured 23.

A taxi was caught in a pedestrian bridge collapse. The bridge was intended as a pedestrian and cycling bridge across the M1, between Alexandra and Sandton.

The project cost R130-m, for a quicker and safer route for the estimated 10 000 people who walk or cycle between the two areas daily. It was due to be completed in October 2016.

Johannesburg said service providers are contractually obliged to ensure the safety of citizens and their property.

The city will investigate claims by construction company Murray & Roberts that strong winds caused the cave-in of scaffolding.

Contractors said final reinforcements were being applied around the bridge under construction, when the structure was blown over.

The Johannesburg M1 Grayston Drive pedestrian bridge collapse scene. The project is part of Johannesburg's public transport improvement drive.
The Johannesburg M1 Grayston Drive pedestrian bridge collapse scene. The project is part of Johannesburg’s public transport improvement drive.

One person has been rescued from one of the vehicles that was crushed when the structure collapsed. A car was crushed under the scaffolding.

Transport MEC Ismail Vadi and Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau arrived on the scene and were briefed by emergency personnel.

The city said it would conduct its own investigations to find out if any procedures were flouted during construction. Service providers are contractually obliged to ensure the safety of citizens and their property.

“We want to institute a proper investigation so that we can get to the bottom of this issue because people have lost lives, people have been injured and they have had their property damaged.”

M&R shares drop after bridge collapse

Murray and Robers shares dropped directly after the incident. The firm says the metal scaffolding which collapsed was erected to enable the building of a pedestrian bridge over the M1 highway. The stock closed at R11,15 after a drop of 7.3%, its biggest decline in four and a half years.

The construction company said it had initiated all its incident response procedures. Ed Jardim, spokesperson for Murray & Roberts, said; “We are very concerned about those injured. This is a very busy highway and this was an active site.”

He was not aware of any construction workers being injured. “All of our incident response procedures have been initiated, our support services have been mobilised and relevant authorities.

“Murray & Roberts offers its condolences to the families of the deceased and sympathy to those injured.

Emergency services were in control of the rescue operations, supported by senior Murray & Roberts personnel and equipment.

Sources; EWN. eNCA. Scaffold Training /Clint Lourens. Murray & Roberts.
Photo; eNCA

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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.

10 thoughts on “DOL to report on M1 bridge collapse

  1. This incident is rife with speculation. It is a sad state of affairs, and follows the typical Clinton strategy – denying everything. Blame has been shifted to wind, (which was rather strong on the day), to stolen steelworks, to a truck bumping into the scaffold. It will however surface during the investigation that someone did not do what they were supposed to. Given the Tongaat Mall enquiry’s slow progress, chances are, we will not know for at least another 12 months, but blaming the wind, is a bit thin under the belt. And if that were to be the case, what was done when the wind started blowing? The wind does not simply go from 0 to 120 km/h in a matter of seconds. It gradually builds up, giving ample warning for a reasonable person to take precautions, which could have included re-enforcing the structure and redirecting traffic. Keep digging!

  2. Just looking at the picture shows green shade netting still in tact, after the wind blew the structure over without ripping the netting off the steel posts????

  3. Many moons ago it was said that incidents (accidents) are caused by unsafe acts and/or unsafe conditions. Unsafe conditions do not come about by itself! It is caused by humans. Therefore, somebody, some person must own up. I agree that with such a strong wind the shade netting should have been ripped to pieces long before the collapse of the bridge, but it is still perfectly in place! My understanding of the Act and Construction Regulations says the Contractor is responsible. Own up Murray and Roberts, your shares should have dropped by 70% and not only 7% as indicated.

  4. I would have liked to have conducted that investigation. I have been involved in Occupational Health and Safety for a few years now and have seen some bad accidents. I’m finding it very hard to understand that the wind caused the collapse, and I’m not saying its not impossible. I have a few questions:
    Was a Risk Assessment conducted?
    Was a method statement. done?
    Was the Scaffold erectors competent, and was there documents to proof it?

  5. One’s sympathy must go out to the families of the deceased as well as to the injured folk – few of which, I imagine, were actually involved in the construction work.

    I am sure that the whole of the H&S fraternity/sorority (being gender sensitive) is just as upset over this unfortunate event as the majority of South Africans. Speculation will be rife until the true story emerges and, in my opinion, we, as H&S professionals should avoid being embroiled in the speculation, although we will each have our own pet theories.
    I have seen that ECSA, assisted by SACPCMP, will have a preliminary report on the table before the end of the month and it would surprise me if that gets released without some sort of buy-in from the DoL – otherwise they might be faced with challenging that report. Let’s hope that is the case and that we can take some lessons learnt out of the whole affair.
    See: http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/ecsa-to-consider-bridge-collapse-report-at-oct-29-meeting-2015-10-19
    And, Yes, Jannie, I’m sure that many of us would love to be involved in the investigation but obviously that honour is reserved for a select few!

  6. Talking about “involvement” or experience, for that matter, after 45 years of experience in the occupational health and safety environment, I still need to meet a contractor who faithfully expresses and commits himself to the full value of his written documentation like a Health and Safety File and ensures that all is implemented. In the above case I am sure you will find the ‘Risk Assessment’ and the ‘Method Statement’ somewhere in the Health and Safety File on the construction site, BUT, who is the culprit who conveniently ignored or neglected the application and implementation of such documentation and guidelines? The duties of the client (and the Designer?) are clearly spelled out in the Construction Regulations and therefor I believe the investigation(s) should start with the Client and with the Principal Contractor! We all know the crucial question that should be asked: “What have you done to prevent such incident from happening?”

  7. Engineers, artisan and scaffold constructors up against health and safety personnel lead to situation like this. One engineer once said health and safety does not bring in money rather it take money out. He laughed when I showed him the iceberg effect.

    Let Murray and Roberts feel the iceberg impact on health and safety. With all the investigations said to be performed by different organization and there is still no word from the DoL. Condolences to the affected, effected, impacted and bereaved.

  8. Does anyone know how long it was standing before the incident, one must also be wary of speculation and assumption.

    Johan Cilliers having read your comment.

    What Companies Health and Safety Policies Say they Will DO. And What they Really DO. Is it REALLY One and the Same ?

    What Companies Health and Safety Policies Say they Will DO.

    But Rarely practically HONESTLY AND SINCERELY Do – Do.

    How often have you, or have you ever studied what a company’s Health and Safety Policy says it will do to ensure Health & Safety and then looked at what, What the company actually does do, TO ensure health and safety at work.

    Then when you actually visit that company and or their site you find that they Talk the Talk and Talk a Good Game.

    But do not Walk the Walk or Play a Good Game by their own rules.

    How often have you heard companies say things in their HSE policies like “Safety is non-negotiable”as so often seen in some Health and Safety Policy Statements as listed here below.

    AND that they want:

    To be at the forefront of accident prevention, we implement in AT all our sites and Factories the mandatory XXX Occupational Safety and Health Management System, which meets or exceeds the requirements of the health and safety laws applicable in the countries in which we operate.

    AND

    Therefore, we devote all the necessary energy and attention to protect employees, contractors and any other people involved with the company along the value chain, including suppliers, customers and the public.

    THUS

    We commit to perform systematic identification of hazards and to manage them with appropriate risk assessments and subsequent actions to minimize danger.

    HENCE

    We establish emergency and contingency plans to deal with residual risks.

    SO THAT

    Our Occupational Safety and Health management system is based on the concept of continuous improvement.

    THEREFORE

    XXX recognizes the critical role of senior management to ensure a safe & healthy work environment.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    OR THEY SAY THINGS LIKE

    The management and employees are committed to the adherence, implementation and maintenance of SHEQ Management Systems, which are based on ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007.

    Continuously improving our service and project delivery to clients by regularly reviewing and improving on our performance; Ensuring client satisfaction at all times; Not compromising on our EHS values and continually seeking ways to promote and improve the health of our people and reducing our impact on the environment; Identifying, assessing and managing risks to employees, clients, co-contractors, the environment and the public; Upholding ethical and best business practices; Making our people an integral part of decision making;

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    AND OR THINGS LIKE

    XXX acknowledges it has a moral, legal and financial responsibility to safeguarding all persons who may in any way be affected by the activities of our business. It is our utmost priority to look after the well being of these persons. We believe in maintaining a clean, hygienic, safe and healthy environment. This environment is maintained for our employees, customers, clients and suppliers. We regularly review our policy, practices and performance to ensure continuous improvement in the area of Occupational Health, Safety and the Environment.

    We at XXX have set the following Occupational Health and Safety objectives and targets to:

    Create a responsibility with all employees to prevent accidents at his or her level on site
    Continuously train all employees in safety procedures, safety rules and safety best practices
    Disabling Injury Frequency Rate (DIFR) of 1.0 and less
    Ensure that all line managers are actively involved in the implementation of Health, Safety and Environmental legislation
    Ensure full compliance with client OHS specifications for each project carried out by XXX

    Our beliefs:

    We believe that it is fundamental for xxx staff, volunteers and service users to be in a safe environment and be protected from physical and mental harm. Without health and safety measures volunteers and staff would not be able to provide the valuable services that they do for people in the community.

    Aims:

    We aim to promote a healthy and safe working and volunteering environment for both ourselves and others who may be affected by our acts and omissions by adopting only the safest systems, methods and procedures within the organization.
    xxx will take all steps necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees, volunteers and service users on xxx activities.
    xxx will adhere to the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act and other relevant health and safety legislation and codes of practice.

    Practical steps:

    >To establish, maintain and regularly review safety plans and risks: the trustee board meet regularly and discus health and safety issues.
    >To provide adequate and competent planning and supervision of all activities: all projects which go out will have a risk assessment carried out for them. This is usually done by the project coordinator or any other person responsible for organizing the project. This risk assessment will then be checked and signed off by a trustee or member of staff. Pre-visits and project inspections and visits are encouraged where possible.
    >To ensure the safety of all equipment (including transport) and that it is being used in a correct and safe manner:
    >To have a designated health and safety officer: Our Chair of the board of trustees has overall responsibility for health and safety issues for the organization. The health and safety trustee facilitates executive decisions on all matters connected with health and safety The day to day management of health and safety is the responsibility of the staff and designated volunteers
    >To ensure appropriate training/ information giving in health and safety is delivered and ensure all staff and volunteers are adequately trained to carry out tasks.
    >To establish and maintain systems for consulting staff, volunteers and service users about health and safety issues: this is done through the health and safety sub group as well as feedback from project planning forms.
    >To maintain accurate records of accidents and other events with health and safety implications: This is done through accident/ near miss report forms.
    >Support and guidance: the organization aims to support members as much as possible to minimize mental health and other risks.
    >Ensure all members are aware of their responsibilities with regards to health and safety:

    This includes taking reasonable care for their own health and safety, and also for the health and safety of all other persons who may be affected by his or her acts or omissions; working in accordance with any information, guidance or training received; refraining from participating in any activity after having been warned not to undertake that act or to behave in that particular way; refusing to undertake any task for which authorization has not been given; reporting any health and safety concerns to a responsible person as soon as possible.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    The Management of xxx commit to complying with the HSE acts and laws as it is reasonably practicable that all organizational activities are designed, organized and conducted to:

    • Provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of our employees, contractors and visitors;
    • Prevent accidents and occupational hygiene stresses to person and property;
    • Minimize the consequences of such accidents and incidents;
    • Maintain high standards of housekeeping and the image of XXX as a world class Company;
    • Promote health, safety and environment awareness among employees, contractors and
    visitors as a tool to improve the quality of life and protect our natural environment;
    • Comply with all legislation that governs safety, health and the environment and be a benchmark in these areas.

    BUT RARELY DO ANY OF IT – PRACTICALLY AND ON SITE IN REALITY.

    Project Managers, Site Supervisors and Safety personnel and reps actually stand and watch, as employees and contractors conduct and commit unsafe acts and create unsafe conditions. But do nothing to stop, train, educate and motivate the wrong doers. Showing them the error of their ways and encouraging them to change their ways.

    Which in turn has so often lead to harm, severe injury, and pain and suffering or a fatality and often damage to company property, reputation and market share with immense financial losses in terms of Loss of production, Penalties, Fines, Prohibition and Stop work orders, Loss of future contracts, Loss of credibility within the industry, Reduced market share, Incident investigation costs, Medical costs, Civil suites, Court cases and legal claims or prosecution and many other unseen losses and costs.

    (You do not believe me ? or I have not been convincing enough. Well then – Just go look at the news and media reports of Fines, Penalties, Accidents Injuries and Fatalities the media will back me up in all)

    All of which could very very easily and possibly been avoided.

    Iif only they were really committed and did what they said they would do in their Health and Safety Policy – Nothing Less and Nothing More

    How committed are you and is YOUR company to their Health and Safety Policy.

    Well ???

  9. Hi Brian

    I LOVE Policy statements and the like. Simply because they are all measurable, as they are words of intent. The biggest problem I find is that HS Plan. Always lots of guff but no plan. If we look at the CR, its BRA followed by HS Specifications and HS Plan. Which 99% of the time is mixed up. So in this case the RA followed by the H&S Spec (was it a temporary works design?), and then the plan, what, how, when etc.
    I often find that this HS Plan is just a repeat of the CR. It has no form, direction control strategies etc. Relate any other plan to this HS Plan, and you will find that it has direction, outcomes and steps to achieve the goals.
    In Short I must ask of all practitioners, ensure that the plan is a workable, executable and measurable document in writing that is REALLY A PLAN, and not just guff and regurgitation of what is already in the Specifications – Generic + identified e.g. SANS, API , BS plus other standards, which the PC must base his H&S Plan on.

    Cheers

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