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Investigators isolate point of winery structural collapse

SafeWork SA investigators have made substantial progress towards determining the cause of yesterday’s major structural collapse at the Wirra Wirra winery at McLaren Vale.

With the site secured overnight, investigators returned to the scene today where 15 wine fermenters, with capacities of between 9 and 25 tonnes collapsed onto 26 storage tanks below.

A 19 year old man remains in hospital with broken ribs, cracked vertebrae and a bruised lung, after being injured in the incident. He was one of 8 employees and contractors working in the area at the time.

Investigations are focusing on the state of the foundations beneath the fermenters, with indications that they suddenly gave way beneath the weight of the tanks.

Considerable evidence collection remains ahead for investigators, with a number of witnesses to be interviewed and documentary evidence from the employer to be reviewed.

SafeWork SA has engaged the services of two independent experts to assist in its inquiries.

A structural engineer will help examine the foundations, fallen fermenters and framework, while a plumber will use special cameras to examine the footings and nearby drainage to determine what water flow issues may be involved.

These inquiries will continue for some time, after which a technical report will be prepared by the agency.

As with all incidents of this kind, the report will then be considered by SafeWork SA to determine whether further action is warranted under South Australia’s workplace safety laws.



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