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Project management is to blame for collapse


Sidney Lenssen in his address to the 'French Civils' (NCE 8 February) attributes the collapse of the Westgate Bridge to an expertise gap between the designers and the management of Freeman Fox highlighted in the evidence given to the inquiry.

The fact that designers were not called to give evidence may well have been at the behest of the insurers naturally more concerned to protect their interests than to ensure full disclosure.

In my view the overriding cause was a wider project management failure. The client was a new authority set up for the project and communications within and between all the parties were poor with long delays in queries being dealt with.

Consequently the site staff had to deal with the buckled deck with only limited information and support.

It is inevitable that as engineers rise in senior management they become detached from the technical details. Proactive project management and good communications are needed to anticipate problems and deal with them successfully.

Unfortunately, most engineers are by nature introverted and need actively to develop their communication skills.

Correctly identifying the real cause of accidents is essential if the record of the UK industry is to be improved. Unfortunately the HSE appears more concerned with blame and prosecution, and our legal processes do not help.

Peter Cox (F), 18 Ranmore Avenue, Croydon CR0 5QA.

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