Apprentices engaged in high-risk work on Canberra construction sites will be safer under a crackdown by WorkSafe ACT. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Apprentices completing high-risk work on Canberra construction projects sites will be safer under a renewed crackdown by WorkSafe ACT.
Commissioner Mark McCabe will release today two sets of guidance requirements for apprentice supervision.
This includes bans on apprentices and trainees working without mandated supervision and working without required accreditation.
''We have seen several accidents in recent months involving apprentices working alone doing high-risk work,'' Mr McCabe said.
''Supervisors should be aware that they are responsible for the safety of all of their workers, and especially apprentices and trainees, who require a higher level of supervision than experienced workers.''
In February, Fairfax Media reported young electrical apprentices were illegally being forced to work without appropriate supervision and completing jobs charged at the full commercial electrician's rate.
A WorkSafe audit and compliance campaign was established after two serious accidents in the ACT in which apprentices received electric shocks while working without supervision.
Mr McCabe said the two guidance notes restated existing industry requirements and sanctions. ''I am releasing these new guidance notes as part of a campaign to ensure that all supervisors understand and adhere to this responsibility,'' he said.
''Failure to do so could not only lead to severe penalties for supervisors, it could cost lives.''
The guidance notes for construction and electrical detail risk assessment and supervision requirements as well as fines of $3 million for corporations and $600,000 and up to five years imprisonment for individuals who breach the rules.
The notes require licensed electricians to be present while an apprentice is carrying out licensed electrical work and for suitably qualified person to oversee output by apprentices and trainees.
Mr McCabe said apprentice supervisors were role models and coaches for inexperienced members of the workforce.
An ACT government inquiry was established after four workers were killed in construction accidents in 2011 and last year, contributing to a rate of construction accidents in the ACT almost twice the national average.
Mr McCabe said closer scrutiny of supervision of apprentices by WorkSafe inspectors in the ACT would begin in coming months.