BRISBANE: Mark Bailey has taken the unusual step of stopping work on the Toowoomba second range crossing project after two major safety incidents spark investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
The Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads yesterday announced that work had been suspended on the $1.6 billion mountain pass after his department provided advice which identified two recent serious incidents on the construction project.
Mr Bailey said in a statement that there had been a history of poor health and safety protections on the project with 10 incidents recorded within the last 18 months alone. The stop work orders apply to Piers 2 and 3 of the Viaduct section of the 40km dual carriageway construction project.
“I was advised late yesterday that the Department of Transport and Main Roads has instructed the contractor delivering the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing to suspend work at Piers 2 and 3 of the Viaduct section of the project.
“I am not satisfied with the operations on this site – the safety of workers is paramount.”
Nexus Consortia, which is the contractor for the project, had also been warned by the Minister for Industrial Relations, Ms Grace Grace, as early as February in an unprecedented meeting with the contractor onsite.
“There is a well-documented history of health and safety incidents on this project, so these recent reports are extremely concerning and we are taking them very seriously,” Mr Bailey said.
The incidents which include a trailer attached to a truck flipping on its side after being hit by a water truck, as well as, an unsecured load dropping onto another vehicle last week. No one was reported as being injured.
“It’s also why Minister Grace and I took the unprecedented step of meeting with the principal contractor Nexus on site on 23 February 2018 to directly express the Government’s concerns.
We made it clear that given there have been so many plant rollovers and serious concerns raised by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ), we need to see a significant improvement.”
A report on the incidents at the site was expected to be provided to the minister yesterday. It is unclear if the report will be made public.
Works are expected to be suspended for at least a week or until approval from the government has been received by the contractor.