Lane Cove Tunnel Collapse: The Unseen Injury

When engineering feats fail, there is often a toll of resulting injuries. But when everyone escapes seemingly unscathed, the injuries may run deeper than they first appear.

On 2 November 2005, at approximately 2 a.m., the Lane Cove Tunnel was under construction when the roof of the tunnel collapsed, causing the land above the tunnel to give way. There were several tunnelers working inside the tunnel when the roof began to collapse. The collapse necessitated the evacuation of the construction workers and 60 residents that were in the vicinity.

WorkCover NSW conducted an investigation into the incident, and the collapse was considered to have been caused by a multitude of factors including the geological conditions of the tunnel, the distance from the surface, the width of the tunnel and inadequate roof supports. It was reported that the tunnelers “narrowly escaped injury” when they made it out of the tunnel before it collapsed. However, nearly 5 years on, that is clearly not the case.

Beilby Poulden Costello is representing one of the construction workers who escaped the tunnel collapse with minor physical injuries, but today remains haunted by his brush with death, and has suffered significant psychological injury as a result of the traumatic events he lived through.

Later this year, proceedings will commence in the Industrial Relations Commission to see if the entities involved in the tunnel’s construction satisfied their legal obligation to provide a safe system of work. Once those proceedings are concluded, our client will be able to forge ahead with the action for his unseen but deeply felt and lasting injury.

By Caryn Ger