West Gate Bridge tragedy remembered on 50th anniversary

Today we acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Victoria’s worst industrial accident, the collapse of the West Gate Bridge.

At 11.50am on 15 October 1970, two years into the construction of the bridge, a 112-metre span gave way and fell into the Yarra River, killing 35 workers and leaving 18 others seriously injured.

As in previous years, both the Australian and Victorian flags on top of the West Gate Bridge will be lowered to half-mast from 7am to 7pm, to honour those who lost their lives in the tragedy and those whose lives it changed forever.

Many safety initiatives now entrenched in Victoria’s construction industry, including standard grief counselling for workers after major incidents, can be traced back to changes made in the wake of the terrible events on this day 50 years ago.

Important reforms to our occupational health and safety laws have been driven by the survivors of the collapse, together with the union movement, who have advocated to make sure we deliver safer workplaces for all Victorians.

The West Gate Memorial Park, which aims to increase awareness of workplace accidents and to promote safe work environments, was opened in 2004 on the site of the bridge collapse.

It incorporates the original memorial plaque listing the names of the 35 victims, that was paid for and erected by bridge workers in 1978.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions a special commemoration to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy at the memorial site in Douglas Parade, Spotswood will be scheduled at a later date.