Page 3163 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 October 2022

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On the morning of last Tuesday, 11 October 2022, Access Canberra was made aware of an incident of a shoring collapse at a construction site at 330 Northbourne Avenue. The collapse occurred during the early hours of that morning, and no-one was present onsite at the time. The collapse impacted residential properties along Lowrie Street, Dickson, and caused a localised power outage.

Access Canberra building inspectors and the senior engineer attended the site and have worked collaboratively with WorkSafe ACT to ensure safety at the site. Under the power of the Building Act 2004, Access Canberra inspectors issued a stop notice for the site on that Tuesday afternoon. That notice has meant that all further building works, except required rectification work, have not been permitted.

On Friday 14 October, under the power of the Construction Occupations (Licencing) Act 2004, the Construction Occupations Registrar issued an emergency rectification order. This order was issued to Bloc Constructions (ACT), who are required to arrange for the completion of rectification works as set out in the order. The time between the stop notice being issued on 11 October and the emergency rectification order being issued on 14 October was to enable the necessary expert advice to be sought and provided in relation to the rectification methodology.

This order was issued as an emergency order because there was a need to act promptly to protect the safety of any persons at the premises and to protect the safety of occupants in the adjoining land which have been affected by the building works. The order requires the completion of the rectification works by no later than 5 pm on this coming Thursday, 20 October 2022.

Access Canberra is engaging with affected residents in relation to the processes underway. Directly affected residents are receiving engagement in person by a senior Access Canberra representative. This is enabling these residents to stay informed about activity underway and for their questions to be answered. The site is currently safe and stable, and the approach to remediation is being discussed with affected residents. Access Canberra is also undertaking a letterbox drop to nearby residents, providing an update on activity.

Access Canberra building inspectors and the senior engineer will continue to work collaboratively with the builder and WorkSafe ACT throughout the rectification works. As the matter is still under investigation by the registrar, at this stage I am unable to advise whether any additional regulatory action may be taken against the licensee.

This type of deep excavation is associated with medium- to high-rise construction projects, typically comprising one or more levels of basement in addition to a rise of three or more storeys. Such construction involves many specialised subcontractors, supervised by a class A builder.

The Construction Occupations Registrar has directed Access Canberra’s senior engineer to undertake a targeted assessment of construction sites across the ACT that are at similar stages of construction, to ensure appropriate monitoring and controls are in place to manage excavation safety. This may also include the consideration of site

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