Klass Looch Associates

Employer OHS Champion since 1986 

Damning report into M1 highway bridge collapse that killed two. 3 December 2019


Incompetence, missing bolts and all-round negligence cited as grounds for prosecution, but no individuals have been implicated. A temporary structure for the building of a pedestrian bridge over the M1 highway was kept together by luck rather than engineering skill. At about 3.25pm on October 14 2015, that luck ran out, as 120 tons of steel crashed on to the highway during afternoon traffic. The collapse cost the lives of two people and injured 19, but could have been prevented, an investigation report by the department of labour shows. The findings, especially those made against the main contractor, Murray & Roberts Construction (MRC), are damning. The department recommends that four institutions be prosecuted, but it does not hold any individual responsible. The report about what really led to the accident has been kept under wraps until now. The department has refused to release the report, but the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), which appointed MRC, provided it to City Press’ sister publication, Rapport, on request, because it is in the public interest. According to the report, the MRC entrusted the project to a candidate engineer, Oliver Aadnesgaard, as site engineer and to Hein Pretorius as contract manager. Both were inexperienced and lacked the expertise for this specific project. As a candidate engineer, Aadnesgaard should have worked under the supervision of a registered engineer, but Pretorius was not registered with the Engineering Council of SA and had no experience in building bridges or erecting temporary structures. Contrary to the contract, MRC failed to appoint an engineer for the design of the temporary steel structure that collapsed. In addition to designing the structure, the engineer was also meant to supervise its erection and to ensure that it was done according to design, in addition to doing regular inspections. Instead, MRC only used the general arrangement drawings provided by the supplier of the scaffolding, Form-Scaff. The drawings were only meant to determine the number of components needed, so that Form-Scaff could calculate the price, and was never intended to be a formal design for the erection of the temporary structure. The consequence is that MRC never worked out what load the structure would be able to carry and, therefore, whether it would be strong enough to remain standing. In addition, MRC never planned the sequence in which the building would take place. “It is like building a table and wanting to put up the tabletop before the legs. They erected a heavy, unstable structure across the road, without fully installing the elements Form-Scaff planned to stabilise it,” said Gregory Harrington, a structural engineer who was previously employed by MRC and who followed the case closely. To top it all, MRC did not even follow Form-Scaff’s informal “design”. Important parts of the structure were omitted completely. Construction of two anchor points – a pylon on the west side and a pier on the east side – had not even commenced at that point.  

Some of the other deviations include:  

At the median support, in the middle of the highway, which the entire structure effectively rested on, 21 of 33 diagonal supports had been left out.  

On both the east and the west side of the highway, reinforcements to the scaffolding were omitted.   

The deviations from Form-Scaff’s sketch weakened the structure to such an extent that it could not withstand the force of the wind on the afternoon it collapsed. That is why it collapsed, the department found.

According to the report, the quality of work on the parts that were erected was poor, and various connectors were not even tightened properly. MRC began erecting the temporary structure a few days in advance. On October 13, the last quarter of the bridge deck plate was put in position. During the investigation, it came to light that 95 bolts meant to keep the parts together were missing. The company admitted that it had done no risk analysis before giving the green light for the road underneath the structure to be opened to traffic on October 14. If a competent person had done such an inspection and an analysis, the shortcomings would have been recognised and corrected, the report found. This could have prevented the disaster. During the department’s investigation, Aadnesgaard did not want to say who gave the go-ahead for the road to be opened, but the report indicates that he may have been the one to do so. At the time the contract was awarded, the JDA appointed Nemai Consulting to ensure that safety requirements at the site were met. The department criticises Nemai’s representative, Roxana le Roux. She recorded some of the shortcomings but failed to put a stop to the work until these were corrected. In addition, Le Roux was not registered with the relevant regulatory body. In the report, the department recommends the prosecution of the MRC, the JDA, Form-Scaff and Nemai Consulting for various contraventions of both construction regulations and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. No individuals have, however, been singled out for further legal steps to be taken against them.  


But Willem le Roux, attorney for the JDA and an expert in occupational safety at law firm ENSafrica, said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was not bound by the decision and could prosecute any person that it believed was responsible. However, the testimony before the department may not be used in court and the NPA will have to build the case from the start. The listed Murray & Roberts group has since sold its construction affiliate but still retains liability for the events. In a statement to shareholders, the group said it did not agree with various of the department’s findings, but would not elaborate on this when contacted for comment. JDA spokesperson Susan Monyai said a presentation about the department’s report was made to the JDA board on Friday. The board is taking legal advice as it differs with the findings regarding the JDA.   

The full Report - with findings and recommendations - should be made public. All interested parties are in any case entitled to the Report after a scathing finding by the judge in Industrial Health Resources Group v Minister of Labour 2011 against the obsolete and unconstitutional practice by DoL to refuse to make the Report available to all interested parties. Yet DoL still resists making their Reports available. The MHS Act, in line with the Constitution, provides for these Reports to made available. I predict most of the contraventions will be found in section 10 of the OHS Act. Section 10 is duplicated in many of the provisions of the construction regulations of 2014 and carries more (legal) weight. RHL  

Grayston Drive bridge collapse inquiry gets new presiding inspector. 9 March 2018

Phumudzo Maphaha previously presided over the Tongaat mall collapse inquiry and the Meyersdal structural collapse inquiry. The Department of Labour’s chief inspector, Tibor Szana, today announced Phumudzo Maphaha as the new presiding inspector over the Grayston Drive pedestrian and cyclist structural bridge collapse inquiry. Maphaha will take over from Lennie Samuel who has been presiding since the inquiry was set up. Szana said Samuel has unfortunately taken ill and is no longer in a position to continue presiding over the inquiry. “I have subsequently appointed Mr P.O. Maphaha as the presiding inspector to take over from Mr Samuel due to the gravity of his illness,” Szana said. Maphaha previously presided over the Tongaat mall structural collapse inquiry and the Meyersdal structural collapse incident inquiry. The Grayston Drive pedestrian and cyclist structural bridge collapse inquiry was announced by the Department of Labour in 2015. The Section 32 hearing was set up to investigate negligence that may have resulted in occupational injuries and deaths of people. On 14 October 2015, a pedestrian and cyclist bridge under construction on Grayston Drive in Sandton collapsed on the M1 highway, leaving two people dead and 19 others injured. The inquiry had its first sitting in February 2016, with the last sitting held on 27 September 2017. The inquiry has been postponed to July 2018.  

Inquiry into M1 Bridge Collapse Postponed Again. 26 September 2017

The matter has been postponed to Tuesday after an expert from building material company Formscaff presented new evidence. There's been yet another delay on the first day back at the M1 Grayston Bridge inquiry. The matter has been postponed to Tuesday after an expert from building material company Formscaff presented new evidence. Two people were killed and 19 others were injured when the scaffolding around the temporary bridge caved in on the busy Johannesburg highway in 2015. The inquiry resumed with the cross-examination of an expert from Formscaff. The engineering expert has presented new evidence, relating to what may have caused the temporary structure around the pedestrian bridge to cave in. The inquiry has experienced several delays since the deadly collapse almost two years ago. The Johannesburg Development Agency's legal representative Willem Le Roux says the postponements are unacceptable. “This is a very serious matter and proceedings have been dragging on unnecessarily.” Legal representatives from construction company Murray And Roberts will now be studying a report after an expert witness presented new evidence in the probe. They were taken by surprise when an expert from Formscaff presented new evidence while being cross-examined. Le Roux says the inquiry cannot afford any more delays. “At this stage, it’s close to two years after the occurrence of the accident. It’s undesirable for proceedings to be delayed to such an extent.” Meanwhile, the inquiry's presiding officer Lennie Samuel insists despite today’s delay, all expert witnesses will be cross-examined by the end of this year. Samuel says he took the decision to adjourn Tuesday's proceedings to maintain the integrity of the commission.   

The probe into the tragic Grayston bridge collapse continues. 5 September 2017

The inquiry was instituted by the department of labour following the collapse of the M1 pedestrian and cyclist bridge in 2015. The M1 Grayston Bridge inquiry, which was postponed in August 2016, will resume in Pretoria on September 26. The event will take place at the Pretoria Labour Centre offices, Concillium Building at the corner of Nana Sita and Thabo Sehume. The sitting will start at 9am. The inquiry, which is being held in terms of Section 32 of the Occupation, Health and Safety Act, was instituted by the department following the collapse of the M1 pedestrian and cyclist bridge on October 14, 2015, resulting in the deaths of two people and injuries to 19 others. The inquiry seeks to establish the cause of the accident. It is being conducted by Lennie Samuel after being instituted by the department of labour’s chief inspector, Tibor Szana. Stakeholders include the Johannesburg municipality as the client, Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) as the agent, Murray and Roberts Infrastructure (MR) as the principal contractor appointed by JDA and Form Scaff as a contractor appointed by Murray and Roberts. Already a number of expert witnesses have been called, among them Roelf JM, an expert witness representing Murray and Roberts, Richard Beneke, an expert witness representing Murray and Roberts, Ric Snowden, an expert witness representing Murray and Roberts, Stefanus Francois van Zyl, an expert witness representing Murray and Roberts, and Garry Farrow, an expert witness of Form Scaff. It is expected that more witnesses will be called and that the inquiry will conclude its business at the end of September next year.  

What if a bridge collapses on the M1?   11 May 2017.

Inquiry stalls without any apparent reason.  

Parties close to the Department of Labour’s inquiry into the collapse of the temporary works structure onto the M1 freeway in Sandton in October 2015, and the family of at least one of the deceased, are concerned about unexplained delays. Legal teams have made a proposal to the department on the way forward, in an effort to prevent a situation where the inquiry will only proceed next year. Evidence was last heard in August last year. Two people were killed and 19 injured when a temporary works structure collapsed onto the busy freeway on October 14, 2015. The construction work was done without interrupting the traffic and the scaffolding fell onto vehicles that were travelling underneath in mid-afternoon traffic. The Department of Labour set up a Section 32 inquiry in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to determine with a mandate to investigate among other things:  

·The responsibility of the client in terms of construction regulations;  

·The responsibility of the principal constructor in terms of the    construction regulations and as an employer;  

·The responsibility of the agent on behalf of the client in terms of the same regulations;  

·Supplier of materials and design.  

The parties before the inquiry are Murray & Roberts as principle contractor and material supplier, their client the Johannesburg Development Agency, the JDA’s agent Royal Haskoning DHV and From-Scaff, the supplier of some of the scaffolding. These parties as well as their workers and trade unions are expected to testify, the department said in an earlier statement. So far four witnesses have testified on behalf of Murray & Roberts. The hearings were postponed on August 29 last year to give Form-Scaff expert witness Gary Farrow, a mechanical engineer from Australia, more time to respond to questions that were put to him on short notice. It was scheduled to resume on March 27, but the department said in a statement issued on March 14 that it was postponed until May 4 “due to technical challenges affecting the proceedings”. The hearings were supposed to run from May 4 to June 9. On May 2, two days before the hearings were set to resume, the department could not tell Moneyweb whether they would go ahead. It in fact did not proceed and the department failed to respond to Moneyweb about the reasons for the postponement. Three different parties spoke to Moneyweb about their concern that further sittings might be impossible this year, since it has become very difficult to coordinate the diaries of all the different legal teams, including at least 12 senior counsel and attorneys. “We have reserved the dates agreed upon in the diaries of our legal teams. The department is not using it and some legal teams have indicated that they will only be available again next year,” one of the parties told Moneyweb on condition of anonymity. The parties confirmed that they have not been given any reason for the delay. They have agreed upon a way to expedite the inquiry by exchange of papers, but admit that that will detract from the public nature of the inquiry. The parties are currently waiting for feedback from the department. JDA executive director for transport Lisa Seftel, said the ongoing delay is disappointing. She says that from the beginning, the City of Joburg did everything possible to establish who was responsible for the collapse and to hold them accountable, but the delays are making it impossible. She said two people died and many were injured. The inquiry is important for those affected to get closure and to understand what happened. Attorney Hlengiwe Majozi from Bophela and Majozi attorneys that represents the family of Siyabonga Myeni, who died in the incident, said her clients suffered a great loss. Myeni was a breadwinner who provided for five children as well as his mother. “They are facing great financial difficulty and any delays have an adverse impact on especially the minor children,” she says. Majozi says the family is also concerned that the inquiry might not be completed before the family’s civil claim for damages prescribes three years after the event. Attorney Willem le Roux, director of ENSafrica who represents the JDA and specialises in mine and occupational health and safety matters, says the slow pace of the inquiry by the department in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act is in sharp contrast with inquiries by the Department of Mineral Resources following mining accidents. He says mining accidents are dealt with in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act and the department deals with it speedily in order to determine the causes of the accident and determine remedial measures. Such an inquiry record assists injured persons and dependents of deceased persons to claim damages.  

Labour department inquiry into bridge collapse to visit M1/Grayston Drive scene. 20 July 2016.

The collapse of the temporary bridge structure on Johannesburg's M1/Grayston Drive last October led to the death of two people and injury to 19 others. The Department of Labour set up the Section 32 Inquiry to uncover the causes for the collapse of the scaffolding work into the Grayston Drive Pedestrian and cyclist structural bridge. Lennie Samuel is presiding over the inquiry‚ assisted by Lesibe Raphela. The commission's visit to the site of the fatal accident‚ follows Murray & Roberts’ request to reconstruct the bridge‚ the department said in a statement. The site has been under a prohibition notice by the Department of Labour following the collapse of the temporary structure. "The site visit will be preceded by a presentation by Murray & Roberts to the Commission. After the presentation‚ the Commission will write to the Department of Labour Chief Inspector for input‚ and will in due course provide a response to Murray & Roberts’ request." At the commission hearing on Tuesday‚ Murray & Roberts’ third expert witness‚ Ric Snowden‚ said that based on the drawings he had seen‚ if he were a designer of the temporary works structure‚ he would have re-designed the structure taking into account that the standalone structure erected by Murray & Roberts was not as per the drawings. Snowden testified on the importance of sequencing further emphasising the issue of adequate bracing‚ saying this was critical in all phases of the work. He said had bracing been done adequately‚ the temporary works structure would not have collapsed. “Although I was made aware of the deviations in the construction of the structure‚ this was a matter between Murray & Roberts and FormScaff‚” he said. Snowden said while there was a misalignment of the girders in the centre median‚ there could have been immense pressure on Murray & Roberts to open the road. He further told the Commission that although the construction was ahead of schedule‚ there were a number of dates that were revised. According to Snowden‚ he said he had interrogated the drawings of the project and a lot of information was missing. He further told the Commission if he were constructing the project using the same drawings‚ safety would have been compromised. He identified that the drawings were not signed off by a professional engineer.  

Shocking short cuts by construction companies revealed. 18 July 2016

The inquiry into the collapse of the pedestrian bridge over a section of Grayston Drive in Johannesburg continued this week at the department of labour’s offices. The inquiry into the Grayston bridge collapse has revealed shocking short cuts being taken by construction companies. South Africa’s building-industry code could be set for major changes following damning evidence of a cowboy culture and unprofessional practices that emerged during a probe into the collapse of a temporary structure over a highway in Johannesburg. This week, at the inquiry in Pretoria, witnesses for construction company Murray & Roberts told Commissioner Lennie Samuel about gaps in building law standards and practices, such as starting construction when building plans were still incomplete. “We will make recommendations for legislation or amendments where there are gaps [to ensure] the health and safety of workers,”  Earlier this month at the inquiry, Professor Roelf Mostert‚ head of the University of Pretoria’s Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering Department, said certain suggestions by Australian engineering firm Amog, which investigated the matter for scaffolding supplier Form-Scaff, were not industry standards in South Africa. However, Samuel had Mostert concede that the local construction industry should keep up with international construction standards. Three Murray & Roberts witnesses have so far this month argued that the collapse, which killed two people and injured 19 next to the Grayston Drive offramp near Sandton in October last year, was triggered by a gust of wind, resulting in the collapse of a temporary structure that wasn’t stiff and strong enough. The company also argued that the design used by Form-Scaff was inadequate. Richard Snowden, director of special projects at professional services firm Arup, and Murray & Roberts’ third witness, argued that the structure should have been built to withstand a wind speed of at least 35 metres per second. A wind speed of 10.1 metres per second had been recorded at 3.19pm on the day, six minutes before the crash. The company said its calculations showed a wind speed of 12 metres per second could have knocked the structure over. “Fundamentally, the structure had been slightly weakened during the day,” Snowden said. Form-Scaff, which has denied the charge, will present its version of events on Tuesday. In total, the inquiry expects to hear from 23 witnesses from Murray & Roberts, Form-Scaff, engineers Royal HaskoningDHV, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) – the project owner – and Nemai Consulting, health and safety advisers to the JDA. Fourteen of the witnesses will be from Murray & Roberts, the majority of them company workers. Samuel, a 30-year veteran at the department of labour, is a forensic investigator and was a co-commissioner of the inquiry into the Tongaat Mall collapse in Durban in 2013. He said the inquiry was likely to conclude its work in September and that the report would be sent to the National Prosecuting Authority if there was evidence of wrongdoing. “But we will also see if there any gaps in the legislation or lessons to be learnt for the industry,” he said. Another gap identified this week was the absence of regulations on the construction of what is known in the industry as false works – temporary structures that are built while construction is under way, like the collapsed bridge. Also, in many cases where there was no industry code, builders used the British standard and this needed to be rectified, the inquiry heard. Richard Beneke, a civil engineer with 40 years of experience, told the inquiry that although the drawings for the M1 project had not been signed off, there was enough information to begin building. It was standard practice, he said, to start construction with what was available, if adequate, because “construction would otherwise be delayed”. Beneke, appearing as a Murray & Roberts expert witness, said Form-Scaff had not provided the document with the sequence for the construction of the bridge, as was standard practice. This was vital in ensuring the safety of the structure and ensuring the bridge was completed in time and on budget. Cross-examined by Willem le Roux, the JDA’s legal representative, Beneke said, based on the photos he had seen, he would have been concerned about the safety of the structure. “The majority of the remaining quick-stage components were not in place,” he said, adding that the structure also “had grossly insufficient lateral sway”. Beneke’s testimony was backed by Snowden, who investigated the cause of the collapse on behalf of Murray & Roberts. Snowden said he had seen no wind calculations in Form-Scaff’s drawings and there was no indication that the drawings were incomplete. Beneke testified that he had identified 61 structural risk deficiencies in the drawings and said that Form-Scaff’s design and drawings had “unsatisfactory aspects”. He was concerned that the design drawings might not have adequately communicated the requirements for the scaffolding setup. The design had “geometric errors”, including that the scaffolding setup would have seen it leaning south. “The Form-Scaff drawings are open to interpretation ... the Form-Scaff drawings don’t contain enough information,” Beneke said. Advocate Ewan Rudolph, legal counsel for Form-Scaff, argued that the drawings were sufficient and had been derived using a superior model developed by Amog. The companies’ legal experts will meet shortly to discuss the models, and a presentation to the commission is scheduled for next week. There were heated exchanges on Friday morning between Samuel and Murray & Roberts’ legal representative Sias Reinecke, with the commissioner accusing Reinecke of disrespecting the inquiry after calling Samuel’s suggestion that the parties present their models as “the worst decision”. The inquiry has been adjourned until Tuesday. The contract for the construction of the Grayston pedestrian bridge was worth R130 million over two years.  

Critical flaws in bridge.  13 July 2016.

The temporary structure collapsed in October, killing two people and injuring several others. Testifying at the inquiry into the collapse yesterday, civil engineer Richard Beneke, who studied the scaffolding company Form-Scaff's drawings after the accident, said it was clear from the photographs that some "sections were completed only to a small extent, and that they were partially completed in the region around the support on each side of the M1 motorway".  He said the temporary bridge was still under construction, saying progress "was clearly less than the full extent shown in the drawing". "I considered some of the bracing elements to be inadequate to provide the necessary lateral restraint when the super-shores are subjected to concrete loads. "They were not massively inadequate but I did not consider them sufficiently adequate," he said. Asked if he found proof that the stress caused by wind was taken into account in the drawings, Beneke said he did not know to what extent it was taken into account because of the "uncertainties" on the design drawings. He said he was concerned that the wind loading appeared to be quite high in relation to the strength of the bracing system. Beneke said the documentation he analysed for his report as an expert witness for construction firm Murray & Roberts did not have a clear prescription for the sequence of the implementation of the components of the bridge. He said the design's implementation sequence for the structure was key for safety and ensuring that the bridge was completed within the required time and resources. "There are many issues to be considered and to be considered jointly both by the construction people and design people," he said. Under cross-examination by Johannesburg Development Agency lawyer Willem le Roux, Beneke said he would have been concerned with opening the highway without a risk assessment. Earlier testimony pointed to missing bolts, a gust of wind and an unsatisfactory design being among the reasons why the bridge collapsed.  

Inquiry given contrary reports on scaffolding. 7 July 2016

THE oft-delayed Department of Labour’s inquiry into the M1 bridge collapse resumed on Thursday, with principal parties Murray & Roberts and Form-Scaff shifting blame over who was responsible for the fatal accident last year. Murray & Roberts, the main contractor whose responsibility was to erect the pedestrian bridge near Grayston Drive, argued through its expert witness on Thursday that the quality of some of the couplers used to hold the scaffolding structure together had not been up to standard. A coupler is used to connect two tubes by clamping them together so they do not slip. The questionable quality of some of the couplers could have contributed to the temporary structure not being able to withhold the force of the wind, argued Prof Roelf Mostert‚ head of the University of Pretoria’s Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering Department. He was at the scene on the day of the incident. “The structure didn’t show any noticeable movement until the time of collapse (on that day)‚” Mostert said. However, legal counsel for Form-Scaff, the company that supplied the scaffolding to erect the bridge, countered this by accusing Murray & Roberts, SA’s second-largest construction company, of poor workmanship. Citing findings from an investigative report compiled by AMOG, an Australian consultancy that specialises in structural collapses, Form-Scaff said that evidence suggested the couplers had not been tightened adequately. Michael Els, CEO of Waco Africa, of which Form-Scaff is a subsidiary, told Business Day on Thursday that “under certain conditions, if you under-tighten the coupler, it does not grip as well as it is designed to do”. But Mostert said he had found no evidence to back the theory that poor workmanship was at the root of the collapse. Instead he had found that the couplers provided by Form-Scaff had snapped and the structure could not withstand the force of the wind. Murray & Roberts spokesperson Ed Jardim said on Thursday the construction group would respond to the report’s allegations of poor workmanship as the inquiry continues. On Friday, the construction group is expected to present three other witnesses to vindicate it from blame for the bridge collapse on October 14 that left two people dead and at least 19 others injured. Form-Scaff’s expert witness from AMOG is expected to provide submissions next week. Other role-players include the City of Johannesburg, represented by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA); the Engineering Council of SA and engineering consulting company Royal HaskoningDHV. The Department of Labour’s inquiry, which has so far been delayed three times since investigations began six months ago, must make a finding on what went wrong and who is responsible. In May the inquiry was postponed after the department said commissioner Lennie Samuel‚ a departmental forensic investigator, needed more time to study reports by major stakeholders. These reports had allegedly been submitted after the stated deadline. But a representative from the JDA denied this.  

Grayston Drive bridge collapse inquiry to resume. 4 July 2016.

The on and off inquiry into the Grayston Drive pedestrian and cyclist bridge that collapsed and killed two people and injured 19 others last year is set to resume, the Department of Labour said on Friday. The inquiry, which was set up after the 14 October 2015 collapse of the temporary bridge structure across the M1 near the Grayston Drive off ramp in Johannesburg, has been deferred several times. Department of Labour Director and Media Liaison Mokgadi Pela said the inquiry would resume next week Thursday. "The next sitting of the M1/Grayston Drive Pedestrian and cyclist structural bridge collapse inquiry is expected to start on 7 July with testimony from construction firm, Murray & Roberts," said Pela in a statement on Friday. He said the sitting was expected to continue for seven successive days, except on weekends, until 15 July 2016. The Section 32 Inquiry, which was set up by the Department of Labour after the collapse of the temporary bridge structure in terms of Occupational Health and Safety, will investigate instances of alleged negligence. "The Commission’s mandate will focus on: the responsibility of the principal constructor in terms of the construction regulations, the responsibility of the client, the responsibility of the agent on behalf of the client in terms of the same regulations, supplier of the materials and design(er)," said Pela. The inquiry will be presided over by Lennie Samuel. Pela said some of the interested role players and witnesses that were expected to testify include engineers, construction firm Murray & Roberts, the City of Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Development Agency, Royal HaskoningDHV, Formscaff, Engineering Council of South Africa, and the National Union of Mineworkers. The Inquiry will be held at the Department of Labour offices (Labour Centre) at Concillium Building, Nana Sita (formerly Skinner Steet) and Thabo Sehume (Andries Street) in Pretoria/Tshwane.  

Bridge collapse inquiry to probe Health and Safety Agent. 19 May 2016.

The Construction Health and Safety Agent will be investigated in the the bridge collapse inquiry. The Grayston bridge collapse inquiry will investigate the contractor, the client, the Construction Health and Safety Agent, and the supplier of materials and design. However the inquiry was postponed due to “technical glitches and challenges”, said the SA Department of Labour. A sitting of the Grayston Drive Pedestrian and cyclist structural bridge collapse inquiry expected to sit for three days from 4 May 2016, was postponed due to “untold challenges faced” by the DOL-appointed Commission. Bridge collapse inquiry Presiding Officer, Lennie Samuel, said every time the Commission meets it experiences challenges. He said the issues faced by the Commission were beyond his control. “We have had a series of communications with various stakeholders to the inquiry. We have also made sufficient progress to date.  “We have now received expert reports from Formscaff and Murray & Roberts. The rest of the parties have submitted statements”. Two experts from Formscaff were expected to give evidence before the Inquiry. There were 20 witnesses lined up to testify before the Inquiry. The inquiry may proceed on 7 July 2016 at a venue to be confirmed. The Section 32 Inquiry was set up in terms of the OHS Act after the collapse of the temporary bridge structure at the M1 Grayston Drive. The collapse of the bridge structure to link Sandton and Alexandra led to the deaths of two people and injury to 19 others. The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires the DOL to investigate instances of negligence and contravention of safety legislation. The Commission’s mandate will focus on: the responsibility of the principal constructor in terms of the Construction Regulations as employer, and the responsibility of the client; and the responsibility of the Construction Health and Safety Agent; and the supplier of the materials and design. Interested role players and witnesses expected to testify include engineers, construction firm Murray & Roberts, the City of Johannesburg a s client, the Johannesburg Development Agency, Royal Haskoning   

M1 bridge collapse inquiry postponed for a second time. 5 May 2016.

THE inquiry into the bridge collapse over Johannesburg’s M1 highway was on Wednesday postponed for the second time, with the Department of Labour citing continuous challenges that were "beyond its control" as reasons for the delay. "We have made progress from the time that the inquiry started and we have communicated with various stakeholders," said the Department of Labour’s Lennie Samuels who is the presiding inspector over the inquiry. "Unfortunately, we continue to face challenges that are impeding the commission’s inquiry. These issues are beyond our control," he said. The Department of Labour’s acting spokesman, Mokgadi Pela, said these challenges included some stakeholders not fully complying with the investigation by not submitting the required documentation on time. "I will not name and shame any of the parties", but the department had received extensive reports from only two stakeholders, he said, referring to Murray & Roberts, which built the temporary bridge structure, and Form Scaff, which supplied the scaffolding. This challenged the commission’s ability to thoroughly investigate the case, said Mr Pela. A representative from the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) lambasted the department’s reasons for the delay, accusing it of misinforming the media. "We have no knowledge of missing reports as being the reasons for the delay," said Siyabonga Genu of the JDA. He said the reasons he was given were that the department did not have equipment to record the sessions, as it was supposed to. "This is disappointing. We want to get on with the inquiry so we can move on," he said The new date for the inquiry to be heard is July 7. The collapse of the M1 pedestrian bridge on October 14 last year resulted in the deaths of two people, while 19 others were injured.  

Set of bolts not installed on collapsed Grayston bridge, says JDA. 17 February 2016

While key stakeholders have refused to take responsibility for the October collapse of the Grayston drive pedestrian bridge on Gauteng’s M1 highway – which killed two people and injured 19 – the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has told an official inquiry into the bridge collapse that construction company Murray & Roberts (M&R), as well as scaffolding supplier Formscaff, were responsible for the construction of the bridge and its support structures. JDA senior development manager Siyabonga Genu told the inquiry, which got under way on Tuesday, that it had been brought to his attention during monthly progress meetings prior to the collapse that a set of bolts on the scaffolding had not yet been installed and that M&R representatives had decided that the missing bolts would not affect the structure. M&R attorney Richard Haul noted that it was a temporary structure that collapsed, not the bridge or any permanent structure, adding that the scaffolding acted as a support to the final structure and would have been removed once completed. He added that the JDA, as employer under the contract, provided copies of design drawings for the permanent works as part of the tender and that the engineer appointed to administer the contract was from engineering firm Royal Haskoning DHV. “It is important to understand the difference between the permanent work provided by Murray and Roberts and what actually collapsed,” he stressed. He explained that the permanent works provided by M&R included traffic accommodation, construction of the pedestrian bridge, widening sections of Grayston drive, the construction of sidewalks, the upgrading of streetlights and the installation of street signage. To construct the bridge, M&R required temporary work solutions to be designed, supplied and implemented. “Formscaff provided the design for the temporary work solution and specified and supplied the materials to implement the temporary works solutions,” he said. In a report read by Formscaff attorney Ewan Rudolph, the company, which was subcontracted by M&R to supply materials and erect the bridge,  stated that it had supplied the material used to construct the temporary works but that it was not responsible for their design. Rudolph noted that the formwork was not fully erected at the time of the collapse and that Formscaff was not on site to oversee any construction work before the date of the collapse. “Between October 11 and 13 last year, M&R did not call Formscaff’s representatives to site and Formscaff [had not seen] M&R’s methodology drawings. Formscaff also had no knowledge of the construction methodology that M&R used during the temporary works phase,” said Rudolph, stressing that the cause of the collapse was not yet known to Formscaff. Meanwhile, Genu pointed out that over 10 000 pedestrians crossed the Grayston daily and that a separate bridge built specifically for pedestrians and cyclists was required. “It is important that the causes of the collapse are determined to prevent future similar occurrences,” he added. Representing the JDA, law firm ENSAfrica attorney Willie le Roux stated during the session that it was still not clear who was responsible for the design of the temporary scaffolding and that it was important to get factual issues cleared up before expert reports were submitted to the inquiry. No witnesses had been called during the session, which was called by the Department of Labour to investigate an alleged instance of negligence in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  The inquiry provided the opportunity for key stakeholders to deliver their administrative reports to highlight the extent of their involvement in the project. The first session was chaired by presiding inspector Lennie Samuels, who received submissions from the JDA, M&R and Formscaff The next session would take place between April 19 and 21.  

Labour dept to address bridge collapse, Tongaat Mall.  3 December 2015.

A labour department official has said the M1 bridge collapse in Johannesburg and the Tongaat Mall collapse near Durban would be addressed by December 8. Speaking to News24 on Monday, department spokesperson Mokgadi Pela said a media briefing would be held in Pretoria to discuss the bridge collapse. "The media will be given an opportunity to address the Tongaat Mall issue at this event as well." When asked if the department would be releasing the mall report at the briefing, Pela said: "All queries will be addressed at the briefing." After the mall collapse on November 19 2013, the department appointed a commission of inquiry, headed by Labour Department Occupational Health and Safety Manager Phumudzo Maphaha, to investigate the reasons. It emerged the eThekwini Municipality never approved the development plans. Durban businessman Jay Singh, whose company Gralio Precast was building the mall, said at the time the collapse was caused by its poor design, which was drawn up by structural engineer Andre Ballack. The development has since been sold. Murray & Roberts, responsible for constructing the temporary bridge at the M1 highway in Grayston that collapsed in October, said at the time it was probing the incident. Company spokesperson Ed Jardim said they did not immediately have all the details of the incident, but they had sent people to the scene. One person was killed in the incident with several others sustaining serious injuries.  

Formal inquiry launched over collapsed bridge. 29 October 2015.

Labour Department investigators were unable to get access to all of the key people they wished to interview about the collapse of the scaffolding structure near the Grayston off-ramp in Johannesburg, contributing to the department’s decision to launch a formal public inquiry into the accident. Tibor Szana, the chief inspector at the department, admitted yesterday that the investigators’ inability to gain access to some people was “an area of concern to us”. However, Szana declined to comment on the companies the people they wanted to interview worked for. But he stressed that it was an aspect “we will definitely pursue going forward”. The deadly scaffolding bridge collapse, which claimed the lives of two people and injured 19 others, happened on October 14. Listed construction and engineering group Murray & Roberts (M&R) was the main contractor on the R130 million project to build a pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the N1 to link Alexandra and Sandton. Aggy Moila, the acting director-general at the Department of Labour, who is also the deputy director-general responsible for inspection and enforcement, said M&R had acquired materials and the design for the construction of the temporary bridge from Form-Scaff. Form-Scaff is a division of Waco Africa, which was planning to list on the JSE before the end of this year, but postponed its planned listing a day after the accident. Moila said M&R had erected the temporary bridge using the design drawings done by Form-Scaff. “At the time of the collapse, it transpired that the installation of the Kwik stage design was not yet completed. However, the traffic was already traversing under the structure,” she said. Moila said the formal inquiry into the accident that would take place in terms of section 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act would focus on, but not be limited to, investigating the responsibility of the client in terms of construction regulations; the responsibility of the principal contractor in terms of the construction regulations and as a employer; the responsibility of the agent on behalf of the client in terms of the same regulations; the supplier of materials; and the design. Szana said the formal inquiry would take about six months to complete and was aimed at gathering further evidence and information on the cause of the collapse. He said the evidence and information would then be presented to the National Prosecuting Authority, and they would then make a decision on the issue. Szana said the prima facie evidence obtained during the preliminary investigation indicated it was appropriate “to look a lot deeper into this particular matter”. Ed Jardim, the group investor and media executive at M&R, said it welcomed the inquiry as a means to discover the exact cause of the accident.  

Click here for Construction Regulations 2014 'Definitions'.  

Labour dept to release report on Grayston Bridge collapse.

A preliminary report on the findings of what may have caused the collapse of the Grayston Bridge earlier this month, will be revealed by the Department of Labour on Wednesday. The support structure of the bridge, which runs along the M1 across Grayston Drive, collapsed on October 14 shortly before the afternoon rush. At least two people were killed and another 20 were injured when vehicles making their way past the bridge were crushed. The road was closed following the incident and was re-opened by mayor Parks Tau the following day. Murray & Roberts, the company responsible for the construction of the pedestrian and cycle bridge, has appointed technical, engineering, legal and forensic specialists to probe the incident. This was in addition to other investigations initiated by the Department of Labour, the City of Johannesburg, the South African Police Service, the company said. It has previously warned against speculation over what caused the structure to collapse. It was not immediately clear when Murray & Roberts would release its own report.  

Six months for bridge inquiry  

Department chief inspector Tibor Szana said yesterday that they were looking more closely at the design drawings, but would not speculate as to what might have caused the incident. "We are gathering further evidence to get to the bottom of what transpired," he said, adding that the department would be conducting a formal inquiry in terms of section 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This inquiry will focus on whether the client, contractor, supplier and the agent who dealt with the contractor followed regulations. The inquiry's results would be handed over to the NPA, Szana said. Two people died and 19 were injured in the incident, which took place on October 14, when a pedestrian bridge collapsed on two vehicles close to the Grayston Drive offramp, near Sandton.  

The Department of Labour has concluded its preliminary investigation into the collapse of the Grayston bridge scaffolding support structure over the M1 in Sandton on October 14 that killed two people and injured 19 others. 26 October 2015. Mokgadi Pela, a spokesman for the department, confirmed this on Friday, adding that the report was being shared with stakeholders. Pela said the department would hold a media briefing this week about the findings of the preliminary investigation. Henry Laas, the group chief executive of Murray & Roberts, the main contractor on the R130 million pedestrian bridge project, said last week that it was difficult to commit to a time frame on when the investigation would be completed. Laas said if the department decided to conduct a section 32 Inquiry, this would be a public inquiry and take months rather than weeks to be concluded. He said the cause of the accident had not yet been determined and stressed he did not want to speculate about the cause.  

Five probes on bridge. 16 October 2015.

The Department of Labour, the City of Johannesburg, the police, the Engineering Council of SA and the bridge's builder, Murray&Roberts, have all launched investigations. Johannesburg mayoral spokesman Phindile Chauke said: "We have launched our investigation because we contracted Murray&Roberts and we feel responsible." The M1 was reopened yesterday afternoon, with metro police monitoring the traffic flow at the site of the collapse. Gauteng Traffic Police spokesman Obed Sibasa said the collapse had not damaged the freeway. Two people were killed and 21 injured when the bridge's support structure collapsed just after 3pm. The dead and injured were in two vehicles, a minibus taxi and a Toyota Fortuner that were directly under the structure when it fell. Of the injured, Chauke said, seven remained in hospital and one was in a critical condition. Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau yesterday visited the injured and the families of the dead. "Everything at the moment as to what caused the collapse is speculation," said Chauke. Chauke dismissed a claim that a cement-carrying truck had crashed into the structure shortly before the collapse, stating that the vehicle arrived after the collapse. The pedestrian bridge was due to be completed by October next year. It is not known when construction will resume. The bridge was built for the 10000 or so pedestrians who use Grayston Drive as a crossing point from Alexandra to Sandton every day. Department of Labour spokesman Mokgadi Pela said : "If [investigators] find wrongdoing, we will initiate a section 32 OHS Inquiries hearing ." Murray & Roberts said its investigation would "include analysis and research conducted by technical, engineering, legal and forensic specialists". "We have spoken to a number of the injured and will ensure that they, and all affected parties, receive the necessary care."