Construction workers on sites in Canberra should be prepared for further blitzes by WorkSafe inspectors over the coming weeks. WorkSafe ACT intends on cleaning up the shocking state of building sites in the area that continuously ignore OHS procedures.
Last week a blitz on a site in Canberra revealed disturbing practices which endangered not only workers but the public as well. The major issues were lack of fall protection for workers engaged in work from heights, tripping hazards, lack of electrical safety and induction issues.
Read more about WorkSafe ACT’s plans below, the post is from Abc.net.au:
WorkSafe inspectors conducted a surprise blitz on the Nishi apartment complex at Acton on Wednesday and found multiple safety breaches.
The work safety authority is expected to issue improvement and infringement notices today.
“There were fall from height issues, there were trip hazards, there were electrical issues, induction issues, quite a range of issues,” work safety commissioner Mark McCabe said.
Mr McCabe says Wednesday’s blitz will not be the last and WorkSafe will continue to use surprise tactics in the lead-up to Christmas.
The developer, Molonglo Group, has defended its safety record.
Managing director Nectar Efkarpidis says the situation is not as bad as has been reported.
“We take site safety seriously and we deal with it if items get raised. We ensure that they get rectified, any transgressions get rectified as quickly as possible. I’m not sure what else we can do beyond that,” he said.
In order for safety to be achieved, a culture of safe work needs to be developed on building sites. Employers must acknowledge any problems that may have slipped through the cracks and rectify these immediately before lives are lost. The fact that no one was injured on this site is surprising but if safety is continuously flouted, workers will surely pay the price.
So serious is the situation that the CFMEU has stepped in to close 2 sites because of asbestos related incidents. Australia has some of the highest asbestos related illness numbers in the world, so the fact that there are still companies who are not properly guarding against this threat is shocking.
The post goes on to state about the discovery of asbestos negligence:
Dean Hall from the CFMEU says workers on a job at the defence base HMAS Harman and at a landscaping site on the Kingston foreshore were alarmed when they realised they were exposing themselves to potentially deadly asbestos fibres.
He says when the union arrived at the HMAS Harman site, they found a man hosing down a retaining wall that had asbestos mixed into it.
“A worker who was controlling it was someone who had no training or expertise in asbestos,” he said.
“The guy who was actually hosing it down was a bricklayer and when I talked to him about what he was doing and explained to him that he was trying to control asbestos on the site for everybody he was quite shocked.
“He’d been given a face mask which was down around his neck, it wasn’t over his mouth or nose.
When I explained to him what the possibility of contamination would result in, that it’s a very slim chance but you only need one fibre to get mesothelioma, he was horrified and jumped back over the barrier and said ‘I’m not getting paid to get that disease’.”
According to WorkSafe labourers such as bricklayers account for the most work related injuries in the country. Using these workers to perform dangerous tasks that they are not qualified for is unacceptable and not only endangers their lives but those of everyone on site as the fibres are released into the air and inhaled by everyone. Mesothelioma is an incurable disease which only requires the minimum amount of exposure to asbestos to develop, and it is fatal. Why people are not taking this deadly threat more seriously is a mystery.
White Card Training is a mandatory requirement for all workers on a construction site and teaches workers about the hazards they may face when working in the building industry. It also teaches workers what work they may embark on and what work requires specialisation, such as work with asbestos.