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Inspectors have conducted 118 audits and issued 32 notices to construction companies in New South Wales as part of a safety improvement campaign.

As reported in an earlier e-bulletin, WorkCover NSW is targeting commercial construction sites in the six-week campaign.

“During these site visits inspectors are paying particular attention to site management safety plans, including emergency evacuation procedures, and high-risk activities such as crane operation, erection, dismantling and maintenance of scaffold and ‘hot’ work procedures,” said WorkCover NSW Work Health and Safety Division General Manager John Watson.

“To date we have spoken with 324 employers (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking – PCBU), and issued 32 notices relating to identified work health and safety issues including electrical leads and powerpoints, working at heights, demolition, Return to work, emergency procedures and scaffolding.”

WorkCover will meet with employers and unions after the blitz to review the state of safety in the commercial construction sector.

“We may also choose to extend the blitz should we identify any negative trends in site management,” Watson added.

For more detail visit the blitz update.

Published on 10 April 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

WorkCover NSW inspectors are two weeks into a six-week blitz targeting commercial construction sites across Sydney and parts of regional NSW.

Under scrutiny are a number of high-risk activities, such as multi-level scaffolding, emergency evacuation, cranes, hoardings, working at heights, and excavation.

The blitz comes after the recent Barangaroo fire, other construction incidents and calls from Unions NSW (on 13 March) for the state government to audit all major building sites in light of these incidents.

On 14 March WorkCover NSW launched the blitz. “In the past 18 months there have been three high profile incidents in the commercial construction sector involving scaffolding and tower cranes, however, it is important to note there has been no common link between the causes of these incidents,” WorkCover NSW Work Health and Safety Division General Manager John Watson said.

“This blitz will target … specifically those sites involved in the construction of multi-level buildings.”

WorkCover NSW is also meeting with “all major contractors to inform them of the detail of this High Risk Commercial Construction strategy and to make clear to the industry our expectations in relation to the action they need to be taking”, Watson added.

For more details, visit WorkCover NSW

Published on 27 March 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

The federal government’s bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) is before another Senate Committee for further scrutiny.

The Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 was initially vetted by a Senate Committee late last year.

On 2 December the Committee’s government members recommended that the bill pass the Senate. However, the ALP and Greens members concluded that the bill should be rejected.

Among the ALP’s concerns was the bill’s proposal to extend the reach of the ABCC’s powers to picketing, offshore construction and the transport and supply of goods to building sites.

“This proposal would subject industries beyond the building and construction industry to unnecessary legislation and judicial complication, which could in theory lead to disengagement of the logistics industry from the building and construction industry proper,” the ALP’s dissenting report said.

The Greens also recommend rejecting the bill. “The [first] ABCC was biased in its work as it was driven by an ideological attack on construction workers and unions,” the Greens’ dissenting report said.

“Further, in recent years Australia’s construction industry laws have been condemned by the International Labour Organization six times. For these reasons the Australian Greens reject the bills in their entirety.”

Since then the bill has been re-referred to another Committee to re-examine the government’s approach to re-establishing the ABCC.

According to the second Committee’s terms of reference, this includes assessing “the extreme and heavy-handed proposed powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, including coercive powers, conduct of compulsory interviews, and imprisonment for those who do not cooperate”.

The bill was referred to the second Committee on 4 December. Submissions are due tomorrow, with the committee expected to report on the last sitting day in March.

For more details, visit the second Senate Inquiry.

Published on 16 January 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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