Grocon sites close after worker falls to death
Grocon CEO Daniel Grollo says construction has stopped across Victoria for the day after a crane driver fell to his death at a building site in Melbourne's CBD.PT1M24S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2embo 620 349 February 18, 2013
AN EXPERIENCED crane driver fell 10 stories to his death at a Grocon construction site on Monday. He fell from the top of the site's highest crane tower.
The death, the 10th this year on Australian building sites, happened at Grocon's Emporium project in Lonsdale Street.
It is the same site where a union blockade erupted last August over workplace safety issues. The blockade shut down the $290 million project for a fortnight, and is now at the centre of a $10 million lawsuit launched by Grocon against a construction union.
The Grocon building site. Photo: Joe Armao
The events leading to the death of crane driver Billy Ramsay, 59, are still unclear. He fell just before 7am on Monday morning.
WorkSafe reported Mr Ramsay had fallen about 35 metres from the crane's platform. Attempts were made to revive Mr Ramsay, and it is understood family members who also worked in the CBD arrived at the site soon after the accident happened.
All Grocon sites immediately stopped work for the day after the accident, as is customary when there is a death on a Victorian building site.
Mr Ramsay was a father of three and a veteran of the building industry. His son works in construction and his brother Kevin runs a well-known crane company.
Mr Ramsay was described by co-workers as ''a wonderful man''. Many said Mr Ramsay's family were well known and respected in the industry, and his death would be felt widely.
Grocon chief executive Daniel Grollo said the tragedy had saddened the entire workforce. ''He was a well-liked and respected member of our team and our thoughts are with his family, friends and his co-workers,'' Mr Grollo said.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union state secretary John Setka said workers on the Emporium site had been badly shaken by Mr Ramsay's death, and felt deeply for his wife and children.
''He worked on cranes most of his life,'' said Mr Setka, who was careful not to draw the incident into the unfinished battle with Grocon over who selects safety representatives on the builder's sites.
He said a number of Mr Ramsay's workmates had seen him fall. ''It just goes to show how dangerous our industry is; there has been a tragic accident and it can happen on any site,'' Mr Setka said. ''Ted Baillieu always has a go at us, reckons we are a bit too militant on safety. But we don't seem to hear him commenting when a worker gets killed.''
WorkSafe investigators are compiling a report on the accident.