10 February 2020

WorkSafe unleashes new blitz as construction industry warned it needs to step up

| Ian Bushnell
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Building site

Sites will be shut down if needed, says Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones. Photo: File.

The ACT Work Safety Commissioner has called on the building industry to show that it is serious about protecting workers after the second death on a construction site in as many months.

The two workers died in separate incidents on two Denman Prospect sites. A 47-year-old man died on 11 January when a pallet of tiles fell on him; the second death occurred last Tuesday (4 February) when a 60-year-old man fell from a residential building under construction.

Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones issued his warning after announcing another inspection blitz this week on residential construction sites.

In Worksafe ACT’s first blitz this year after the 11 January death, the watchdog issued 70 notices for safety breaches at 28 sites during a 10-day period, including 19 Prohibition Notices which closed down sites where there was an imminent safety risk to workers.

Mr Jones said that while the construction industry in Canberra acknowledged the need for stricter adherence to health and safety legislation, the industry needed to demonstrate that they were serious about safety and protecting workers.

He said it was unacceptable that even one death had occurred this year, and that he needed the construction industry to step up to prevent further loss of life or serious injury.

“Most of the companies in the Territory are doing the right thing, but even a small oversight or risk ignored can lead to severe injury or death on a worksite,” Mr Jones said.

“We will be using all of the powers we have to enforce the work health and safety standards that Canberrans rightly expect in high-risk workplaces like construction sites.

“If that means we need to issue fines, infringements or shut down worksites, then that’s what will be done.”

Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins backed the safety blitz, saying workplace safety in the construction industry was a shared responsibility.

“Employers, workers, contractors and sub-contractors must all play a role in ensuring that safety remains the number one priority across the industry,” he said

Mr Hopkins said Master Builders ACT continued to work with its members to ensure safety remains a top priority within the industry by coordinating ongoing work health and safety educational sessions, support and training.

“Master Builders ACT was saddened to hear of the tragic recent deaths of two construction workers on residential sites at Denman Prospect,” he said

“We support the Government’s auditing and enforcement response in light of these recent incidents.”

Investigations are still ongoing into the two men’s deaths.

Business owners and site managers are being urged to review the latest Worksafe ACT Safety Notices at Access Canberra.

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