Young apprentice worker killed at Newcastle hospital building site

Twenty-year-old apprentice building worker Harry Mcwilliam was killed at a Newcastle construction site on Wednesday morning, when he was struck by falling steel reinforcement bars. Mcwilliam received treatment from paramedics at the scene, but, although the accident occurred on the grounds of the largest hospital in the region, his injuries were too severe.

Mcwilliam was working on a new building at John Hunter Hospital in the New South Wales (NSW) city two hours’ drive north of Sydney. The seven-storey Acute Services building will house a new Intensive Care Unit and a new Emergency Department.

More than 180 workers are involved in the $835 million project, which is being overseen by the multinational construction company Multiplex, and is expected to be completed in 2026.

Multiplex declared Thursday, “As a mark of respect for the tragedy that occurred at John Hunter yesterday, we have stopped work on all our Australian sites today.” Work at the hospital site itself is suspended indefinitely, pending an investigation by SafeWork NSW.

Mcwilliam lived on the Central Coast, between Newcastle and Sydney. Press reports note he was a talented rugby union player, as well as a gifted actor and singer, who performed in local productions with the Gosford Musical Society and Wyong Musical Theatre Company.

Music teacher Toni Williams told the Newcastle Herald, “I was fortunate enough to teach Harry singing for a couple of years and I’ll never forget his rendition of Tenterfield Saddler.”

Many who knew Mcwilliam have posted messages of condolence and memories of the young man on social media. Nick Meyer described Mcwilliam as a “genuine, big hearted caring young leader that was such a positive and inspiring person to be in the presence of. Brilliant rugby player, but also an amazing young man.”

One comment, from Aaron Black, pointed to the broader safety issues in the building industry: “Construction is still a place where a blind eye is turned to safety in the interest of getting the job done. The industry needs to change. This is such terrible news.”

According to Safe Work Australia, construction is the third-most dangerous industry in the country, behind “transport, postal and warehousing” and “agriculture, forestry and fishing.” Between 2017 and 2021, an average of 28 construction workers were killed on the job each year, at a rate of 2.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

According to Safe Work Australia’s preliminary figures, 16 construction workers have died already this year. Across all industries, 78 worker deaths were recorded in the 187 days to July 6, a rate of one fatality every 2.4 days.

These deaths have included other young workers, who, like Mcwilliam, were only just beginning their working lives.

Multiplex’s record is far from spotless. In 2021, the company was fined over the 2016 death of a worker at another hospital work site, in Canberra. Herman Holtz, 62, was killed when an overloaded mobile crane fell on him.

Multiplex and the crane company RAR Cranes pleaded guilty to safety breaches. While facing a maximum penalty of up to $1.5 million, Multiplex was fined $150,000 for “failing to comply with a work health and safety duty.”

Source: WSWS

Leave a Comment

Warning: Undefined array key "sfsi_riaIcon_order" in /home/monitlive/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-social-media-icons/libs/controllers/sfsi_frontpopUp.php on line 165

Warning: Undefined array key "sfsi_inhaIcon_order" in /home/monitlive/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-social-media-icons/libs/controllers/sfsi_frontpopUp.php on line 166

Warning: Undefined array key "sfsi_mastodonIcon_order" in /home/monitlive/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-social-media-icons/libs/controllers/sfsi_frontpopUp.php on line 177

Warning: Undefined array key "sfsi_mastodon_display" in /home/monitlive/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-social-media-icons/libs/controllers/sfsi_frontpopUp.php on line 276

Warning: Undefined array key "sfsi_snapchat_display" in /home/monitlive/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-social-media-icons/libs/controllers/sfsi_frontpopUp.php on line 285

Warning: Undefined array key "sfsi_reddit_display" in /home/monitlive/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-social-media-icons/libs/controllers/sfsi_frontpopUp.php on line 282

Warning: Undefined array key "sfsi_fbmessenger_display" in /home/monitlive/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-social-media-icons/libs/controllers/sfsi_frontpopUp.php on line 279

Warning: Undefined array key "sfsi_tiktok_display" in /home/monitlive/public_html/wp-content/plugins/ultimate-social-media-icons/libs/controllers/sfsi_frontpopUp.php on line 273

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)