Contractor blamed for hospital roof collapse
A seemingly straight-forward job to repair leaks in the roof of a hospital, resulted in a collapse, fortunately not causing any fatalities, but still injuring 5 people.
The collapse of the roof near the foyer of Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, Johannesburg on Thursday 2 March 2017 was a result of the company hired to do maintenance work on the roof failing to assess its strength before piling weight on it, said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. He addressed the media and said the maintenance company should be held accountable for the roof collapsing and injuring people.
After visiting the site where five people sustained injuries Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo said the contractor, Thandzanani Trading Enterprise, would be removed from the site with immediate effect. "We could clearly see the structure on which the contractor was working. The way they were removing the concrete stone, we could see they did not do a proper check on the strength of the building or the roof itself. We don't think that there was a preliminary check, that's why it collapsed. They removed the concrete stones and put them on a site on top of the structure. Because of the weight on concrete stones, the roof collapsed."
The roof was apparently covered with a layer of stone chips for insulation and ultra-violet ray protection. This was removed and stockpiled on the roof so that the leaks could be repaired.
The contractor should have done a risk assessment to investigate the danger of stockpiling stone chips on the roof. The designer of the roof probably did not consider such a concentrated loading during maintenance in the operations life cycle.
The Department of Labour (DOL) and the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) has done a lot of work to prevent such collapses, but they continue to happen at an alarming rate.
However, there is a silent killer, not just collapses that are fatal. In February this year six workers died in an accident in Salisbury Naval Base, KZN. The contractors were conducting repairs to a pump in a pit of about five metres deep. The accident involved inhalation of methane gas by three Department of Public Works contractors and three military officials who tried to assist them when they were overcome by the deadly methane gas. About 21 Navy officers who tried to rescue the workers were rushed to hospital as they also got affected by the gas.
ProjectPro will publish an update on the various DOL inquiries in our next issue of eNews.
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