WHS and the West Gate Collapse

Last week Sarah Gregson presented a paper on our behalf, based on our research into the collapse of the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne in 1970. The disaster killed 35 workers, and injured many more. Its legacy continues to this day, including the annual memorial held on 15 October and the digital commemoration on the West Gate Memorial website. Our research focuses on three aspects of the disaster: the memorialisation of the worker’s killed in the collapse; the charity and relief organisations involved with the victim’s families after the event; and, the WHS issues involved in the disaster and the subsequent Royal Commission. You can read an overview of our paper on the Safety at Work Blog. Our paper from the workshop, which was to celebrate the work to date of Professor Michael Quinlan, who retires from UNSW this year, will appear in an edited book in 2019.

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From the Safety at Work Blog…

2020 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the collapse of the West Gate Bridge which resulted in, amongst others, the deaths of 35 workers, changed Victoria’s approach to occupational health and safety (OHS), instigated a Royal Commission into the disaster, strengthened trade union influence and established an industrial antagonism to the John Holland group of businesses that continues today. Last week, Sarah Gregson of the University of New South Wales, told a conference to celebrate Emeritus Professor Michael Quinlan’s contribution how a modern review of the disaster and the Royal Commission’s findings has important historical lessons that are very relevant to today’s politics and infrastructure projects. Gregson (pictured right) with her colleague Liz Humphrys, reviewed the Royal Commission’s report, transcripts and media reports of the time applying the criteria that Professor Michael Quinlan detailed in his book “Ten Pathways to Death and Disaster- Learning from Fatal Incidents in Mines and Other High Hazard Workplaces“. 

You can read the full post here.

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