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
A crane driver who fell to his death at a Grocon construction site in central Melbourne has been described as a "wonderful man" by his co-workers.
The 59-year-old father, Billy Ramsay, fell 10 storeys to his death from scaffolding at the $290 million Emporium project, on the site of the former Myer Melbourne Lonsdale Street store, at the corner of Elizabeth street, just before 7.40am.
The central Melbourne development was the site of a union blockade last year.
The Grocon building site on Lonsdale street where the man died. Photo: Joe Armao
All Grocon sites have stopped work for the day, as is the custom when there is a death on site.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union state secretary John Setka said that union members were in mourning for Mr Ramsay, his wife and his three children.
He was a very experienced crane driver, who had been in the industry since the 1980s and the Builders Labourers Federation days.
"He worked on cranes most of his life," Mr Setka said.
One of Mr Ramsay's sons is an official with the Victorian Plumbing Trades Employees Union.
"It just goes to show how dangerous our industry is," Mr Setka said.
Mr Ramsay's workmates were today going through "a shocking time," he said.
Grocon boss Daniel Grollo described the incident as a terrible tragedy that 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,’’ he said.
Mr Grollo said support and counselling had been offered to staff. Grocon would work closely with investigating authorities, he said.
Asked if he was surprised the death had happened on a Grocon building site, Mr Setka declined to comment. "I just don't want to speculate," he said.
Mr Setka said it was the union’s role to look after worker safety.
"Ted Baillieu always has a go at us, reckons we are a bit too militant on safety,’’ he said. ‘‘Well, you don't hear from him when a worker gets killed."
Mr Setka said the union was not blaming Grocon for the death.
Grocon will now conduct a safety audit on all of its sites, Mr Setka said, as always happened when there was a death in the industry.
He said Mr Ramsay would have been involved in the 16-day dispute between the CFMEU and Grocon, which saw the Lonsdale Street building site shut down amid huge police presence
“Today we are mourning the loss of a great worker and a wonderful man,” said Mr Setka.
Police and emergency services were at the scene on Monday.
WorkSafe will also investigate, and police prepare a report for the coroner.