Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Plank your lucky stars
Rachael Ray swears she is one lucky lady. A heavy scaffolding plank plunging through a skylight missed her by centimetres as she sat at her desk in Wellington.
"It could have killed me," she said yesterday.
The three-metre (10ft) plank fell through the plastic skylight in the Havana Coffee Works building in Wigan St.
Miss Ray, cafe manager for Fidel's, was working on staff wages when the plank thudded beside her.
Havana Bar company director Chris Wagstaff was at another desk in the office and a third person was in the doorway.
"We didn't realise what was happening till it came through," Miss Ray said. "I swore. We all swore. What else do you do?"
The plank was dropped by a worker at the neighbouring construction site for the Hotel Wellington extension. The Labour Department is investigating.
Wellington Cuba Construction – jointly owned by Rex Nicholls, husband of Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, and Phil McGaveston – is behind the hotel development.
Tim Holmes, managing director of contractor Holmes Construction, said a worker had been erecting scaffolding at the site's boundary when a gust of wind caught the plank. He lost his balance and it slipped from his hands.
The man, from a scaffolding company working for Holmes as subcontractors, was between 7m and 8m above the ground at the time.
Both companies were reviewing safety procedures, he said.
Labour Department spokesman Alan Cooper said the department had investigated a complaint from Havana earlier this month. It had been satisfied the construction company was meeting health and safety obligations "but we will be reviewing the company's systems in light of this incident".