Perth’s Curtin University worksite investigated three times before worker fell to death

A construction site at a Western Australian university had been inspected three times in the past year before a worker fell through its glass roof and died.  

Jonnie Hartshorn, 23, plunged 20 metres to his death after he fell through the building’s canopy at Curtin University’s Bentley campus in Perth’s south-east on Tuesday. 

Workmate Rikki Issitt, 26, was also seriously injured and taken to hospital where he was placed into an induced coma.

He awoke on Wednesday and remains in a critical but stable condition. 

A 27-year-old construction worker was also injured and is recovering at home.

The cause of the incident is still being investigated by authorities. 

The state’s health and safety workplace regulator WorkSafe has revealed it inspected the worksite at the university three times over the past year, news.com reported. 

Jonnie Hartshorn, 23, (pictured) plunged 20 metres to his death after he fell through the building's canopy at Curtin University's Bentley campus in Perth's south-east on Tuesday

Jonnie Hartshorn, 23, (pictured) plunged 20 metres to his death after he fell through the building’s canopy at Curtin University’s Bentley campus in Perth’s south-east on Tuesday

Kylie Galende (pictured left) said her boyfriend's death 'shouldn't have happened' and a 'beautiful man' has been taken away

Kylie Galende (pictured left) said her boyfriend’s death ‘shouldn’t have happened’ and a ‘beautiful man’ has been taken away

The cause of the incident at Curtin University's Bentley campus (pictured) is still being investigated by authorities

The cause of the incident at Curtin University’s Bentley campus (pictured) is still being investigated by authorities

‘WorkSafe inspectors have been to the site on a number of occasions previously,’ commissioner Darren Kavanagh said.

‘Obviously there’s been lots of claims made since the incident and so our investigators will look at all of those elements.’

WorkSafe had carried out routine checks in October 2019 and February this year. 

Then the safety watchdog revisited the site after concrete fell off a truck in June.  

On all three occasions, no issues were flagged about the glass canopy.

Mr Kavanagh said the site had been re-examined on Thursday.

‘We can’t get close to the steel and glass structure because the structure is not stable, so we are utilising other technologies to gather some evidence to assist us in determining what the cause of the incident is,’ he said. 

Mr Hartshorn’s devastated family have laid flowers at the site of their son’s death while his girlfriend Kylie Bonita Galende paid tribute to her lost love in an emotional Facebook post. 

‘The moment our eyes met, we both knew … you are my other half. The missing piece of me,’ she wrote.

‘I don’t really know how life will continue now. No one had ever seen me as happy as when we are together.

Construction worker Jonnie Hartshorn and his girlfriend Kylie Galende (pictured right)

Construction worker Jonnie Hartshorn and his girlfriend Kylie Galende (pictured right)

Work mate Rikki Issitt, 26, (pictured) was also seriously injured and taken to hospital where he was placed into an induced coma

Work mate Rikki Issitt, 26, (pictured) was also seriously injured and taken to hospital where he was placed into an induced coma

The state's health and safety workplace regulator WorkSafe has revealed it inspected the worksite at the university three times over the past year (pictured, workers outside the construction site on Tuesday)

The state’s health and safety workplace regulator WorkSafe has revealed it inspected the worksite at the university three times over the past year (pictured, workers outside the construction site on Tuesday) 

‘The world has just turned very, very dark and gloomy. A beautiful man was taken from everyone today and it shouldn’t have happened.’

Up to 100 staff were working on the building site at the time of the incident, and were promptly evacuated.   

One distressed worker said he witnessed the incident unfold and watched his workmate get swallowed up in a ‘big mess of glass and metal’.

‘I made eye contact with him. I couldn’t do anything,’ he said. 

The building involved is reportedly the School of Design and the Built Environment, known as building 418. 

Mick Buchan, the State Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union vowed to do whatever it took to determine what caused the building to collapse. 

‘We are not going to leave any rock unturned to get to the outcome of what has happened,’ he said.

‘There is going to be a lot of explaining to do.

‘When you hear of a young worker that’s died on the job, just starting his career in construction, what message does that send? It’s an absolute disgrace. Someone has to be accountable and made responsible for this.’

Up to 100 staff were working on the building site at the time of the incident, and were promptly evacuated

Up to 100 staff were working on the building site at the time of the incident, and were promptly evacuated 

Devastated union officials are seen at the scene of a collapsed building at Curtin University

Devastated union officials are seen at the scene of a collapsed building at Curtin University

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