Unsafe construction industry practices have led Attorney General Simon Corbell to call for an official safety probe.
The news comes after a notable increased injury and fatality rate in Australia’s capital and following the death of 21-year-old concreter Ben Catanzariti, who was killed after being hit by a concrete boom on a Kingston work site.
Corbell has been most recently concerned by “a tendency in some parts of the industry for profit margins to be traded off against workers’ safety,”which, in itself, has brought additional controversy.
Latest reports on the ongoing issues now indicate that a code of silence is perpetuating the growing industry issues.
According to former electrical leading hand and safety officer Adam Usher, a number of witnessed safety breaches had gone unchecked and were not properly dealt with. Usher goes so far as to explain that there is an overall atmosphere of apathy on work sites in Canberra.
“The builders’ representatives repeatedly breached OH&S guidelines and ignored requests made by WorkSafe inspectors,” he says. “The inspectors shut the site down due to the number of non-compliance infractions every time they visited. It’s just like every single site I’ve worked on in Canberra.”
ACT WorkSafe commissioner Mark McCabe agrees that the high level of industry ‘dob-ins’ seem to indicate a heightened level of diffidence surrounding the reportage or discussion of safety violations.
“You have to assume they’re dob-ins because it’s not safe for them to tell us through the formal channels,” says McCabe. “It’s a small town. I’d imagine if you were threatened, it would be hard to know what to do because you’ve still got to work in this town”.
Construction sites in the capital accounted for 59 per cent of all visits made by WorkSafe between 2010 and 2011.
While these issues may have long gone undetected, that is no longer the case. Both WorkSafe ACT and the government are now involved in changing the work site mentality in the area, taking a hardline approach that will leave no room for these practices to continue.