Passing on the Lessons of the Westgate

Posted on Jan 31, 2018

The West Gate memorial and exhibition opening highlights critical work for work health and safety diploma graduates.

The 15 October 2017 was the 47th anniversary of the collapse of the West Gate Bridge and on the same day the CFMEU Education and Training Unit held a graduation ceremony for the 25 workers who recently completed their Diploma in Work Health and Safety. The students’ day was shared with the opening of an exhibition of photos and memorabilia about the West Gate Bridge.

In the morning we gathered for the annual memorial ceremony under the West Gate Bridge, Spotswood, which included a minute of silence for those who lost their lives.

Later at the CFMEU training facility in Port Melbourne around 250 people, including the families of those involved in the West Gate Bridge tragedy, joined us for lunch. Our graduates received their diplomas from our very special guests, including:

  • Paddy Hanophy - leading hand and rigger who first crossed the Bridge;
  • Sam McFadyen - iron worker and rigger who did the first steel work;
  • Mrs. Gerada whose husband, an iron worker, died on the Bridge;
  • Bob Setka - iron worker and rigger who rode the Bridge down and survived;
  • Pat Preston - rigger and crane operator who was working under the span when it collapsed;
  • Stan Humphries - leading hand and rigger who was injured when Joe Owens, the last worker, died falling from the Bridge, and
  • Danny Gardiner - iron worker who with John Cummins, Pat Preston, Jim O’Neill and Tom Watson established the West Gate Memorial Committee.
The exhibition was opened by Loretta Canevera, retired CFMEU OHS teacher who worked with Pat Preston, former CFMEU OHS Manager, to curate the exhibition.

It was a unique day and is perhaps best summed up by Charles Garuda who wrote: “On behalf of my mother and family, we would like to thank the CFMEU for the invitation to your ceremony, your generosity, and your hospitality. This day is a sombre day for our family, and it was made that little bit easier by the way the CFMEU honour the workers who were killed or injured on the West Gate Bridge. Please pass on our heartfelt thank you”.

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