16 August 2021

WorkSafe, police crack down on illegal construction work during lockdown

| Ian Bushnell
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Housing development

Inspectors are out and about on the ACT’s building sites. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

WorkSafe ACT has ordered a blitz of construction sites after detecting residential construction work and trades being undertaken illegally during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Police issued eight infringement notices on Sunday, including six from a building site in Taylor, the most in one day since the pandemic began.

Work Health and Safety Commissioner Jacqueline Agius said WorkSafe ACT Inspectors working with police were on the lookout for any non-essential work being done in support of the public health directions over the lockdown period.

She said sites faced random inspections on weekends along with usual visits during normal business hours.

WorkSafe ACT continues to ensure health and safety of ACT workplaces to both continue to provide essential services and to ensure the safety and security of those workplaces that must close,” she said.

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She said that some major construction sites were provided a grace period to ensure the safety and security of these sites over the coming week, but inspectors continued to find non-essential work being undertaken.

“WorkSafe ACT continues to regulate workplaces during the lockdown and we are working closely with industry and unions to do so,” Ms Agius said

She said that the only work that could be done over this period was through approval of emergency work or make-safe provisions, and a WorkSafe ACT inspector must approve it before proceeding.

“We are out in the ACT and on the ground as we are needed,” Ms Agius said.

“If non-essential work is found by an inspector, there will be consequences. All work on commercial and residential construction sites must cease to support breaking the chain of infection in the Territory.”

Ms Agius said that WorkSafe ACT would continue to do its job as the work health and safety regulator during the lockdown period.

“We are available both over the phone and by email to respond to any workplace issues as normal. You can contact us and we can, and will, respond accordingly,” she said.

WorkSafe ACT can be reached on 13 22 81 during business hours, after hours on 0419 120 028 or email at worksafe@worksafe.act.gov.au.

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I hope that the labourers, apprentices and low income earners within the trade sector are supported through the lockdown because they will need it.

The high net worth individuals who are dirsupted, on the other hand, should look after themselves. There are much more desparate cases out there who should be prioritised than people with deep pockets and short arms.

It is not just construction workers. Car and truck traffic on the GDE today was almost normal, including alot of NSW plates. Seems to fly in the face of “If you live in Belconnen, stay in Belconnen”…doesn’t appear to apply to Gungahlin.

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