Construction safety crackdown continues

Canberra's construction industry is facing further disruptions as WorkSafe ACT ramps up efforts to clean up the building sector.

WorkSafe inspectors conducted a surprise blitz on the Nishi apartment complex at Acton on Wednesday and found multiple safety breaches.

The work safety authority is expected to issue improvement and infringement notices today.

"There were fall from height issues, there were trip hazards, there were electrical issues, induction issues, quite a range of issues," work safety commissioner Mark McCabe said.

Mr McCabe says Wednesday's blitz will not be the last and WorkSafe will continue to use surprise tactics in the lead-up to Christmas.

The developer, Molonglo Group, has defended its safety record.

Managing director Nectar Efkarpidis says the situation is not as bad as has been reported.

"We take site safety seriously and we deal with it if items get raised.

We ensure that they get rectified, any transgressions get rectified as quickly as possible.

I'm not sure what else we can do beyond that," he said.

The building union, the CFMEU, also stepped in this week to temporarily close two sites for failing to adequately protect workers from asbestos.

Dean Hall from the CFMEU says workers on a job at the defence base HMAS Harman and at a landscaping site on the Kingston foreshore were alarmed when they realised they were exposing themselves to potentially deadly asbestos fibres.

He says when the union arrived at the HMAS Harman site, they found a man hosing down a retaining wall that had asbestos mixed into it .

"A worker who was controlling it was someone who had no training or expertise in asbestos," he said.

"The guy who was actually hosing it down was a bricklayer and when I talked to him about what he was doing and explained to him that he was trying to control asbestos on the site for everybody he was quite shocked.

"He'd been given a face mask which was down around his neck, it wasn't over his mouth or nose.

"When I explained to him what the possibility of contamination would result in, that it's a very slim chance but you only need one fibre to get mesothelioma, he was horrified and jumped back over the barrier and said 'I'm not getting paid to get that disease'." Mr Hall says he is amazed by the lack of knowledge and understanding of asbestos.

"Just about every time we dig something up in Canberra we hit asbestos," he said.

"It baffles me why we haven't got mandatory (asbestos) identification training yet." He says most employers are not prepared to spend money on training unless it is mandatory.

"It's unfortunate that's how 90 per cent of people in the building industry operate," he said.

"Unless you tell them in black and white you have to do it, then they won't do it." The CFMEU expects more incidents will come to light in the coming days as workers continue to tip-off authorities.

Contractor collapse Construction of two bridges along Parkes Way has also stalled following the collapse of a major contractor.

Victorian company Bridge and Marine went into administration earlier this week.

Woden Contractors is overseeing the project and spokesman Peter Middleton says he hopes Bridge and Marine will be allowed to trade out of its problems.

"If it all goes well we might only lose a week on the bridges, which isn't a disaster.

It just really depends what happens in the next couple of days and certainly that's out of our hands," he said.

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.9327-0.0005-0.05%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.5555-0.0003-0.05%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6753-0.0003-0.05%
    AUDEUR=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg