Worker hurt at tunnel project as union slams safety

Tunnelling on the Forrestfield-Airport Link.
Tunnelling on the Forrestfield-Airport Link.

UNION bosses have slammed safety at the trouble-plagued Forrestfield Airport rail link project as it emerged another worker had been injured onsite.

Work safety authorities confirmed the 64-year-old man was on night shift in late June when he stood in water containing a substance that caused burns to his feet.

CFMMEU organiser Simon Stokes said there had been about 10 instances of workers who have been injured badly enough to take substantial time off work.

“That guy last week was the individual who was paying the price for people thinking that cheap is value,” he said.

“He ended up standing for seven hours in water he shouldn’t be standing in.

“He’s not the first and he won’t be the last (to be injured) in this project.”

Forrestfield Airport Link delayed until 2021

Mr Stokes said there was no way the project could be done safely with the money allocated.

“Construction sites can be safe but it costs money,” he said.

“Investment in proper state infrastructure is an asset, not a liability.”

There are conflicting reports about the man’s condition, but CFMMEU state secretary Mick Buchan said a “toxic slurry” was higher than the man’s boot level and inflicted severe burns.

“They had to call an ambulance … it’s an absolute disgrace,” Mr Buchan told 6PR on Tuesday.

Premier Mark McGowan said there had been an “enormous” number of inspections by work safety authorities.

“I don’t want to see anyone injured – or worse – on that site,” Mr McGowan told the broadcaster.

“Clearly those sorts of things, we’re trying to avoid.”


Premier Mark McGowan and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti. Picture: David Baylis

The project has been plagued by problems including a sink hole on Dundas Road and concerns over worker safety.

In July last year, a 26-year-old New Zealand man was left in a critical condition after being struck by a flailing hose at the behind-schedule project.

On September 22, a leak developed in the tunnel-to-tunnel cross passage 200 metres north of the Forrestfield Station site.

This led to movement in 16 concrete rings and damage to a 26-metre section of one tunnel, and a sinkhole alongside Dundas Road.

Investigations have indicated a number of potential causes, including construction defects in the grout block or failure of the join between the tunnel lining and grout.

Tunnelling through the grout block and/or vibration from excavation of the cross passage may also have contributed.

In December the State Government confirmed the project had been delayed, with first trains not expected to run on the line until the second half of 2021.

The $1.86 billion project is part of the McGowan government’s flagship Metronet plan, which is no longer expected to be part-funded by the “value capture” model spruiked by Labor at the 2017 election.