Authorities defend not prosecuting over Canberra bridge collapse | ACT | Office Space Canberra \
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Authorities defend not prosecuting over Canberra bridge collapse

Updated October 20, 2017 17:57:33

Authorities have defended abandoning prosecution over the collapse of a Canberra bridge that hospitalised nine workers.

The bridge on the Gungahlin Drive Extension across the Barton Highway collapsed during a concrete pour in 2010, injuring 15 people and forcing the road to close for weeks.

The Director of Public Prosecutions made the decision not to prosecute, partly because the two-year statutory limit to start litigation had expired.

Dave Peffer from Access Canberra said a heavy workload for investigators was a main reason for not launching a prosecution.

“In the two years following [the bridge collapse] we had four fatalities in the construction industry,” Mr Peffer said.

“As the community might expect, the investigation resources within Worksafe were taken off this particular investigation and reprioritised to investigating those fatalities.”

Mr Peffer denied that the choice to abandon litigation due to a lack of resources showed incompetence, but said changes had since been made to improve the agency’s ability to respond to incidents such as the bridge collapse.

“We’ve comprehensively rebuilt the team that undertakes these investigations and prosecutions,” Mr Peffer said.

“What we have done over the last 18 months is some quite significant changes in terms of governance and leadership.

“We are already starting to see the results of those changes.”

ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay expressed disappointment over the fact no-one will be held to account for the incident.

“We are continuing to look at ways that we can continue to develop and to improve on workplace safety and also the capacity of our regulators to investigate and prosecute matters,” Mr Ramsay said.

But Alex White from Union’s ACT said damage was already done.

“What this does is send a green light to dodgy builders that there will be no consequence of any kind,” he said.

Mr White said the appalling response to the incident showed the ACT Government failed to prioritise workers’ safety.

Topics: workplace, accidents, disasters-and-accidents, work, community-and-society, canberra-2600, act, australia

First posted October 20, 2017 17:46:08

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