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House-building safety blitz nets over 50 breaches in Wright

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe.

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe. Photo: Karleen Minney

WorkSafe ACT has found more than 50 breaches and shut down one building site during an inspection blitz on the new Molonglo suburb of Wright.

The work safety authority sent seven inspectors to the greenfield site on Thursday to target compliance with worker training requirements, electrical equipment and other aspects of building site safety.

The operation followed last week's blitz on another residential project, the $550 million Nishi building in New Acton, that resulted in several notices and fines, and a temporary stop-work order on Nishi.

Seven WorkSafe inspectors checked nearly 40 residential sites across Wright on Thursday with one "prohibition notice" stop-work order issued on scaffolding found to be unsafe and more than 50 improvement notices issued for other less serious safety breaches.

WorkSafe commissioner Mark McCabe said there was a strong link between house builders ignoring safety requirements and a poor finished product. "Builders who are doing the right thing on residential sites need to know that wrongdoers will face consequences," he said.

Housing Industry Association spokesman Neil Evans said the safety issues found at Wright mostly related to "misdemeanours".

"I heard that there were a few workers on sites without [safety training] white cards, and I've heard there were some issues around the quality of some low-level scaffolding," Mr Evans said. "But all in all, I haven't heard of any major breaches or major problems, quite a few misdemeanours, but we're working closely with WorkSafe.''

Mr Evans said there was a problem with a small number of operators in the house building industry who were not involved in professional organisations and who were not included in industry-wide safety training or awareness campaigns.

"The problem we face is the small percentage of people in the housing industry who do not belong to the HIA or to other industry organisations and there's no one communicating with them," he said. "We send out newsletters, we hold training seminars, we send all sorts of publications out to advise them and guide them on how they should consider certain issues and deal with them.

"Probably 80 per cent of the people who are out there working are HIA members, but that leaves 20 per cent … not getting any information sent to them and that's where some of the problems could be coming from."

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