DECEMBER 10, 2001
Melbourne barriers too low?
A safety engineer has told the Melbourne Coroner's Court that he believes the safety barriers in Albert Park were not high enough to cope with Formula 1 accidents. Mark Dohrmann told the inquest into the death of marshal Graham Beveridge that the 8-foot high barriers should have been doubled in size. FIA official John Large said that after the accident which killed Beveridge the federation had considered a recommendation to raise the barriers by three feet after the accident but it was decided that this was not necessary because there was no evidence of debris going over the top of safety barriers at the existing circuits.
The point is not really relevant to the case as it is very clear that the wheel which killed Beveridge went through an observation hole in the heavy-duty debris fencing. A number of other spectators received minor injuries from smaller pieces of the wreckage which went through the fencing.
While Dohrmann's comments have been widely reported it is worth pointing out that according to his own company's website Dohrmann is an authority on repetitive strain injury. His consultancy business specializes in safety at work and ergonomic design but often acts as an expert witness in cases where legal teams need help in law suits. Dohrmann was actually trained in the control of explosives and electrical and radiation hazards. He worked for a period as an exploration engineer in the oil and gas fields in Europe. The company made no mention of any motor racing activities.
The inquest also heard from one of the marshals at the scene who said that Beveridge's death was a "freak accident". Wayne Giles said that he would stand in the same spot now.
"I did not think anything large enough to kill you would come through," he told the court. "I would still stand somebody in the same area that Graham had been placed."
The inquest continues.
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