The state of construction workplace safety in the ACT is becoming such an issue an official probe into the sector has been launched.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell says his decision to initiate the inquiry came about due to mounting workplace accidents resulting in fatal or near-fatal results.
In fact, since the launch of the ACT’s WorkSafe division, there has been a 50 per cent increase in reported construction safety breaches. While many posit that this rise could be associated with the increased responsiveness of WorkSafe inspectors, others have blamed the continued issues on the increased construction works in the territory.
According to the Canberra times, there is a strong correlation between what they have labeled as a ‘construction boom’ in the ACT and the higher prevalence of workplace issues.
The most recent of these are still being investigated, with a number of grisly accidents occurring on both in the area of Kingston.
The most recent of these issues saw a man impale his leg on a concrete reinforcement bar after falling from falling from what Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe has labeled as faulty scaffolding.
‘‘There were some faults we believe, it wasn’t in the right position,’’ says McCabe. ‘‘So we’ve asked that it be fixed, which means they’ll have to take it down and reassemble it.’’
While this accident was horrendous in itself, it was less tragic than a workplace fatality that took place only days before on a Kingston foreshore worksite.
Ben Catanzariti, a 21-year-old concrete worker, was killed after being struck by a 39 metre boom. His death stands as the fourth in Canberra since December.
Making the issue all the more horrific are the Attorney General’s concerns of ”a tendency in some parts of the industry for profit margins to be traded off against workers’ safety.’.
Both industry and government unions alike are calling for more stringent repercussions for those who fail to uphold safety procedures, with only those who follow safety requirements offered government tenders.
The state of the ACT construction sector has gone unchecked for too long. It is clear that both WorkSafe and the government will no longer allow accidents of this nature to go without severe consequences.