The Grey Base Hospital laundry and boilerhouse was shut today, just 24 hours after an engineers' report found the 54-year-old building was at risk of collapse in an earthquake.

The 17 fulltime and part-time staff arrived at work this morning to be told the laundry was closing but they still had a job - for now - with and a temporary linen distribution centre being set up on the south side of the hospital site.

West Coast District Health Board chief executive David Meates said the laundry, boilerhouse and chimney were earthquake-prone and high risk.

The structures contained unreinforced masonry, and other critical structural weaknesses had been identified. The main building and chimney did not meet current seismic standards.


"As we've said before when closing other DHB facilities due to seismic risk, staff safety will always come first," said Mr Meates, who is also chief executive of Canterbury DHB, which has closed a number of hospital buildings since the Christchurch quake.

In the short-term, West Coast hospital laundry will be done at a Christchurch laundry and trucked over regularly "to ensure business as usual".

Further reports are due on the other buildings in the Grey Base Hospital complex, and another on the electrical systems.

- The Greymouth Star