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‘We want answers’: Curtin roof collapse probe continues as Jonnie Hartshorn’s family seeks closure

He was one of dozens of construction workers on the Bentley campus site helping build the university’s new School of Design and the Built Environment building.

Jonnie Hartshorn, 23, was a glazier apprentice.

Jonnie Hartshorn, 23, was a glazier apprentice. Credit:Facebook

The other man who fell from the roof, aged 27, was rushed to Royal Perth Hospital and underwent emergency surgery.

A third worker, also 27, was on a lower level of the building when he was dragged down by the falling structure and fell 10 metres.

Following the incident, Electrical Trades Union WA branch organiser Damian Clancey and CFMEU WA state secretary Mick Buchan revealed safety concerns had been raised by staff before the tragedy.

WorkSafe investigators have now reassembled the roof that partially collapsed in a site in Welshpool in a bid to determine what caused the structure to fail.

Up to eight officers are working full-time examining the welding, composition of the steel, work procedures in place at the construction site, and training of staff.

The investigation is the first to be conducted since the state government announced a boost to WorkSafe’s resources, with 21 additional investigators and new forensic capabilities.

WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said it had been “extremely difficult” to demolish and transport the structure but the watchdog was working to finish the probe as soon as possible.

He said the team, which under current regulations has up to three years to complete investigations, was aiming to have some answers in two years.

“Our aim is to conduct the investigation as efficiently as possible without compromising the integrity of the investigation and making sure that we are able to identify the causes as well as identify if there are any breaches to bring that to the court,” he said.

Mr Kavanagh said it was too early to pinpoint exactly what caused the collapse, with multiple lines of enquiry currently being investigated.

WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh.

WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh.Credit:Marta Pascual Juanola

Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said the government’s “fresh approach” to investigating incidents was in response to calls for action by families who had lost loved ones in the workplace.

“I am sorry that there’s nothing that I can do anything to bring back a lost loved one but I think families want to know that we get to the bottom of the cause of any tragedies in the workplace and that those that are responsible are brought to account,” he said.

Mr Johnston would not comment on whether any charges would be laid as a result of the investigation but said it would be months until it would be completed.

“It’s important that we learn from tragedies so they are not repeated,” he said.

If you, or anyone you know, needs mental health support, please call a helpline such as Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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