Construction workers and contractors in The ACT who take shortcuts when it comes to safety need to reconsider their approach to OHS if they are to avoid on-the-spot fines as much as $3000 from next month.
WorkSafe ACT inspectors have been given the go ahead to start issuing on-the-spot fines for safety breaches on construction sites as of July in a last ditch attempt to combat the high injury rates on construction sites in the state.
Last year a shocking report into Canberra’s construction sector found that the ACT had a dismal safety record when compared to the rest of the country. The serious injury rate in the state is substantially higher than the national average – a definite cause for concern which resulted in the government agreeing to the report’s recommendations which included the implementation of on-the-spot-fines for perpetrators.
But innocent builders do not need to be fearful of the new penalties, if you’re doing the right thing there is nothing to be afraid of. Also under the new penalties, building site managers will still be able to challenge a fine in the courts if they believe it has been incorrectly imposed.
According to Workplace Safety Minister Simon Corbell, there will be 11 types of safety breaches that are covered by the new fines. This excerpt taken from ABC.net.au explains what else the minister had to say about the new fines:
“These deal with relatively straight forward, factual matters that allow inspectors to exercise their discretion and issue a fine,” he said.
“That will send a message to people in control of development sites that they have to keep their house in order in relation to these basic safety obligations.”
WorkSafe ACT has welcomed the new powers, saying employers could face on-the-spot fines of around $3,000.
WorkSafety commissioner Mark McCabe says construction companies can no longer gamble on work safety.
“I think they knew it’s only the very serious cases that are going to end up in court,” he said.
“They could roll the dice and just hope to get away with it basically.”
One of the most important aspects to consider when ensuring site safety is that all workers are aware and familiar with safe work methods and construction safety best practices in order to maintain a good safety record. Remember that on a construction site the actions of one may have far reaching and serious implications for another or a group of other workers, or even the public which is why every worker needs to be aware of construction site safety. The way to ensure this is make sure each worker is in possession of the general construction safety White Card.
The White Card is not just a mandatory legal requirement but is also a useful tool in every worker’s arsenal ensuring that they are well aware of the hazards they will face on a daily basis and how to overcome them. So to avoid fines for safety breaches and fines for workers not being in possession of their White Card, ensure that all workers are in possession of the White Card. If you or any of your employees are not, you are breaching safety regulations, visit www.whitecardonline.com.au today and register.