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MBA calls for random drug, alcohol testing

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The Master Builders Association has called for random drug and alcohol testing on Canberra construction sites as part of its response to the Government's independent inquiry into safety.

Former director of the Australian War Memorial, Major-General Steve Gower, was commissioned by the MBA to conduct a separate review of the inquiry's 28 recommendations – all of which have been accepted by the ACT Government.

Executive director John Miller said "With the community's current expectations very high on improvements around safety on construction worksites, the Gower Review believes it is now time to consider the introduction of random testing for impairment on worksites.''

"This is in keeping with data for instance that suggests that the effects of drugs and alcohol on people working on building sites is unacceptably high and this initiative should be seen as no different to managing safety on our roads.''

The Gower response suggested the MBA could strengthen its safety training programs and service to its members by engaging a dedicated Work Health and Safety specialist.

But the Gower review has knocked back calls by the inquiry to develop "frameworks relating to the management of safety were not tasks an industry association such as the MBA could undertake. This is due to the diversity and size of organizations involved in the industry, and because safety management is a fundamental corporate governance matter that rests with building companies and developers."


The Working Group largely accepted the inquiry's call for the acceptance of separate but similar recommendations from the Civil Construction roundtable – which was convened prior to the government's review – but complained they were not given greater prominence.

"Looking after your mates' was a strong theme explored during the course of the Gower Review and in keeping with a new training program recently implemented by the MBA and aimed at changing culture on building and construction sites, the Gower Review has recommended a specific course be developed and directed at worksite junior leaders," Mr Miller said.

The MBA has called for the implementation of the recommendations of the review to be overseen by an "active over-arching body that supports the ACT Work Safety Council.

This should be the continuation of the Construction Safety Advisory Group formed after the release of the Getting Home Safely report or a group similar to the Civil Construction Safety Issues Advisory Committee established as a precursor to the Briggs-McCabe review" he said.

"MBA-ACT is committed to playing its part and working with other stakeholders to continuously improve safety practices and outcomes on local building and construction sites.''

"As noted in the Briggs-McCabe Report it is time for all elements to be united in this common cause," Mr Miller said.