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Public servants do lunch with construction workers

Jayson Bush wasn't able to make it to the fund-raising barbecue held on his behalf at the Nishi site on Thursday but he is stoked at the support the event received.

The 21-year-old construction worker, who broke his back and five ribs and suffered a punctured lung and head and shoulder injuries when he fell 6.5 metres down an air vent there in October, is taking his recovery ''one day at a time''.

The fund-raiser, attended by about 200 construction workers and employees from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, was a ''grassroots'' initiative from the public servants who had moved into the structure Mr Bush was helping to build, Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union ACT secretary Dean Hall told Fairfax Media.

''The public servants now working in the building approached their union delegate to organise the fund-raiser,'' he said. ''This event demonstrates that people outside the construction industry do care about the workers building our city.''

Mr Hall said one of the issues identified in the recent Getting Them Home Safely report was an apparent community acceptance that construction work was dangerous and that it was inevitable people would be badly hurt or die on construction sites from time to time.

''The scary statistic is that every day somebody is injured on a building site [in the ACT] and will likely lose a week's work,'' he said.


''Our injury rate is 36 per cent above the national average and we have the worst record for fatalities in the nation.''

He said it did not have to be that way and that other industries, the NSW coalmining sector being a prime example, had been able to turn similar records around.

''Changing community attitudes (as well as direct action on worksite safety) is a part of that.''

Mr Bush, who still wears a back brace and can't drive, would have been at the barbecue if a medical appointment had not got in the way.

''My primary focus right now is to recover as well as I can,'' he said. ''I take every day as it comes and there are good days and bad days. I've got a lot of people in my corner and that is important. I am focusing on the positives as much as I can.''

His immediate ambition is to get well enough to go back to the gym to work on his fitness.

''I can walk around now and I can have a few beers but sometimes it gets a bit much.''

Mr Bush, who has dropped eight kilograms since the accident, said he could not thank the staff at Powerhouse, who are managing his physiotherapy, enough.

While he knows the road to recovery will be long and hard and that he will never regain everything he lost, he is determined to make a go of life. It is unlikely that future will be in the building trades, however.

''I am not allowed to lift more than 10 or 15 kilograms for at least the next year,'' he said. ''That will restrict my ability to do physical work.''

Mr Hall said the CFMEU was committed to helping Mr Bush retrain and told participants in Thursday's lunch it might be possible to find him a safety officer's position at a later date.