Heavenly view: The stunning view from the top of St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore, which is undergoing a major renovation to repair damage from the violent hailstorm of October 2007.
Heavenly view: The stunning view from the top of St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore, which is undergoing a major renovation to repair damage from the violent hailstorm of October 2007. David Nielsen

Cathedral hits new safety heights

THE restoration of the grand old lady of Lismore architecture, St Carthage’s Cathedral, is breaking new ground in work safety practises on the Northern Rivers.

Melanoma expert Dr Richard Harrison joined members of the St Carthage’s Project Safety Team and other building project managers from across the region on a tour to the top of the stunning structure to view the progress on the project yesterday afternoon, before conducting a presentation on the dangers of working in the sun.

Lismore Catholic Diocesan business manager Greg Isaac said the diocese decided early on in the project to work closely with WorkCover throughout the restoration of the century-old building.

“Instead of responding in a reactive way to WorkCover’s policies and regulations, we invited WorkCover to be on our Project Safety Team for St Carthage’s Cathedral, ensuring we are working with them in a proactive manner all the way through the project,” he said.

Mr Isaac said WorkCover was using the project as a test program to see how it could work with industry and other worksites across NSW.

The workshop included tradespeople working on the cathedral, as well as representatives from Leightons, the Reed Group, the Lismore and Ballina councils, the Roads and Traffic Authority and WorkCover.

“Today we are doing an education program for our site team in regard to the prevention and early detection of melanoma,” Mr Isaac said, explaining the program already included the provision of sunscreen, water coolers, fatigue management and hats.

Project manager Neil Mangelsdorf was beaming with pride as he pointed out the finer details of the painstaking work to the tour group.

There wasn’t a tube of silicone in sight over the thousands of metres of lead flashing, copper pipe and gutter work. The lead work was all folded and joined using traditional techniques and the copper dormers, guttering and downpipe joins were all welded.

“We are using original materials, original methods and everything is built to a one-in-one hundred year solution,” he said, clarifying that meant all work was designed to last to the end of the century.

After an extensive search, the 77,000 roof slates were sourced from a quarry in Newfoundland, Canada, and they are almost identical geologically to the original material that came from Wales in the UK. Each slate cost $5.70.

The cathedral was seriously damaged in the savage hailstorm of October 2007.

Dozens of original stained glass windows were smashed, downpipes burst and one-in-four of the roof slates were broken in the storm.

Cathedral administrator Fr Paul MacDonald said that unlike St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, which was designed by the same architect, there were no plans at this stage to complete the stone steeple. The project is on track for completion in December.



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