I came across an interesting post recently which highlighted the dramatic decline in worksite safety recently in the ACT. According to the post only around one third of ACT workplace have passed safety inspections undergone in the past year, which is significantly less than the previous years.
One of the reasons presented by the posts author as a possible cause of the deterioration is political difference between the government and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury. Rattenbury wants building industry businesses to contribute more financially to improve site safety by training workers more. Whatever the cause, the result is a cause for concern, the fact that safety education is increasing, yet safety is decreasing is distressing and needs to be addressed.
Read the following post from the website Canberratimes.com.au :
Only one in three ACT workplaces that underwent a safety inspection last financial year passed – a dramatic deterioration on previous years’ outcomes.
The poor result has highlighted a policy difference between the government and its new cabinet partner, Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, who wants the building industry to pay more to help train workers.
Just 35 per cent of inspected businesses complied with health and safety laws in 2011-12, compared with 54 per cent in 2009-10. The government’s target was 80 per cent.
ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said the trend was likely to reflect his inspectors’ focus on the construction industry, which has been blighted this year by a record number of serious accidents and deaths.
Mr McCabe and former public service commissioner Lynelle Briggs are expected to report the findings of an inquiry into the industry’s practices within a week.
The Canberra Times reported on the weekend that WorkSafe ACT and its preceding agencies lost half of their inspectors over the past seven years, at a time Canberra was undergoing a construction boom.
Only 34 qualified inspectors now supervise construction sites, down from 68 in 2004-05.
Labor frontbencher Simon Corbell, who became the ACT’s first Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Minister last week, said yesterday the result showed why the government had created the new portfolio.
”Poor compliance across industry is a deep concern for the government. My first priority will be to respond to the findings that Mark McCabe and Lynelle Briggs present in the coming weeks.”
Mr Corbell said the government employed five extra inspectors when it merged WorkCover with WorkSafe in 2010.
Something needs to be done to introduce a more safety orientated culture on work sites if we want to see a reduction in workplace incidents. Businesses need to look at safety as more than just a matter of legal responsibility, they need to concern themselves with the safety of their staff.
The Greens party proposed an increase in building industry levy in order to raise funds for training of apprentice workers, to increase site safety. The increase would see a $1000 increase for a $1 million job, which was well within businesses budgets, according to Rattenbury. However the government does not want to burden the construction industry in a time of economic staggering, they are however in favour of the levy, just not now.
Increased training of apprentice workers will hopefully decrease the number of incidents they are involved in due to their inexperience.
It is unknown if and when the levy will actually come into existence, however in the meantime construction businesses must ensure that workers in their employ are sufficiently trained and in possession of a construction safety white card, not only to fulfil their legal obligations but also to ensure that young workers and apprentices are aware of the hazards on a construction site and how to overcome them.