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Winter highs and lows for airport link

Dundas Road train station under construction.
The High Wycombe Station on Dundas Road is set to be completed mid 2022. Photo: Gera Kazakov CC BY-SA.

Construction of the Forrestfield Airport Link Project this year has seen important milestones met, while the builder Salini Australia has again been charged by WorkSafe.

According to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, the three new stations, at High Wycombe, Airport Central and Bayswater, are now linked with track works completed and construction for the project still within its budget of $1.86 million and due to meet its mid 2022 deadline.

WorkSafe industrial and regional director Ian Dainty said the second prosecution action against Salini was “still in the court system,” and that WorkSafe was “not currently conducting any other investigations into incidents involving Salini at the tunnel project”.

The new train line will spur off the existing Midland line at Bayswater station. The State Government predicts the line will accommodate 20,000 passenger trips per day, with it taking 18 minutes to reach the city from Airport Central for the cost of a two-zone fare. The project is expected to ease congestion as well as creating more public transport options for residents. It will also support tourism by easing access to and from the airport.  

“Over the life of the project, WorkSafe inspectors have responded to any safety concerns received. “

Ian Dainty

The 8.6km long line will go underneath the Swan River. Construction started in 2016 and the contract was awarded to Salini Impregilo-NRW joint venture. But Salini itself has now been charged twice by WorkSafe for failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment which resulted in the harm of an employee.

According to WorkSafe, Salini was fined $150,000 (and ordered to pay $3000 in costs) after a worker sustained major electrical burns when a crane made contact with or came too close to high voltage overhead power lines in October 2017.

Salini Australia pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court in October 2020 to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee.

According to WorkSafe, Salini was charged again in June this year for another incident which happened in July 2018.

A WorkSafe spokesperson said: “A six-inch flexible rubber hose in the work area containing high pressure compressed air had detached from a steel pipe, resulting in unrestrained whiplash motion of the hose.

“A member of the work crew was struck in the face by the whipping hose, causing him to be knocked unconscious and inflicting serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury, severe facial fractures and lacerations, a fractured right hand and an eye injury.

“The injured worker initially underwent nine hours of surgery and was then placed in an induced coma for 11 days. He has since undergone extensive medical intervention including further facial surgeries, dental surgeries, plastic surgery, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.”

A Public Transport Authority spokesperson said: “The PTA works closely with lead contractor Salini Impregilo – NRW Joint Venture to monitor the project’s safety processes and culture, including holding regular joint meetings and site inspections to discuss key issues.”

CFMEU organiser Simon Stokes said: “All serious injuries [on-site] have been reported, yet it was a dramatically unsafe workplace.

“People say construction is a dangerous industry. We like to point out it is a hazardous industry. But if those hazards are managed it should be, and can be, no more dangerous than any other workplace.”

Salini was contacted for comment.