The unprecedented move follows Schal’s decision to ask the police to investigate up to eight incidents in which building materials falling from the fly-tower have come close to hitting people below.
A police spokesman confirmed that officers had visited the £220m project site twice last week. Last week, a Schal employee narrowly escaped fatal injury when a 3 m strip of metal that fell from an upper floor of the 15-storey fly-tower missed him by a foot. Schal was unable to confirm that the employee was the site safety officer.
This week, a site source said: “Everyone knows these incidents are not accidental; there is a maniac loose on the site trying to kill people. For anything to drop from the fly-tower you would have to deliberately remove the safety netting surrounding it.”
Schal believes the latest incident points to malicious intent and has put up notices offering a substantial reward for information leading to the prosecution and conviction of whomever is responsible.
The opera house site has been troubled by unrest for more than a year, with workers complaining about pay, conditions and safety. Schal, for its part, has been annoyed about productivity levels, industrial action and vandalism.
A spokesman for Schal said: “Because of the extensive safety procedures we have in place around the fly-tower, we believe that there is a strong possibility that last week’s incident was not an accident. Because of that, we have asked the police to investigate the incident.”
The spokesman confirmed that a reward had been offered but declined to give details. However, site sources say the amount is £2000.
After last week’s incident, an opera house source said Schal called all the project’s trade contractors together and ordered them to sharpen up their act. They were told to watch for anyone acting suspiciously and to ensure that adequate safety netting was fitted around the fly-tower.
The missile, a 3 m length of 100 × 2 mm trunking lid, is one of a number removed from trunking channels in the fly-tower to allow the installation of wiring for computers, cmmunications and other systems.
The opera house has fallen victim to sabotage on several occasions in the past year. Last December, Schal accused electricians of cutting fire alarm wires, an accusation firmly denied by M&E contractor Balfour Kilpatrick. Then, in January, police were called to the site after the ornate ceiling of the auditorium was vandalised.
Schal is still optimistic that it will hit the 1 December deadline for the opera house. There is speculation that Balfour Kilpatrick intends to bring in an additional electrical contractor.