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Record-breaking safety breaches in Harrison blitz

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe.

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe. Photo: Karleen Minney

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe has confirmed a record number of 120 notices for safety breaches have been handed down after Wednesday’s blitz in Harrison.

Two were prohibition notices, requiring  work to stop immediately, which related to non-compliant scaffolding.

Seven WorkSafe inspectors descended on 46 sites in the new Gungahlin suburb  to target safety breaches in the residential building sector. A total of  total of 98 improvement notices were issued as well as 20 infringement notices, which incur on-the-spot fines.

The fines related largely to a lack of signs, and white card or safety induction procedures not being followed, but also  to the checking and tagging of electrical equipment.

Mr McCabe noted that last year, WorkSafe ACT issued a total of 418 notices.

‘‘The Wednesday blitz was a record number of notices issued in one day by WorkSafe,’’ he said.

‘‘While it is concerning for us to find this many misdemeanours, I think it sends a strong message to the industry that this kind of practice is unacceptable.’’

 He  warned the blitzes would continue until the regulator was ‘‘satisfied with the level of compliance’’ across Canberra.

Mr McCabe said that while the results from Wednesday  were disappointing, there had been one  company with a faultless safety record.

‘‘Of course, there are some good builders out there and my inspectors singled out Rawson Homes as an exemplary performer with not a single safety blemish on any of their five sites visited yesterday.’’

 Rawson general manager Martin Apap said safety required a huge investment from the business but gave a substantial reward in return to staff morale, pride and reputation in the wider community.

Rawson Homes operates  across Canberra and NSW and has 125 staff as well as using subcontractors.

‘‘Of course it’s an ongoing struggle competing with contemporaries who don’t offer the same commitment to safety, and who undercut us, but we would never use the cost of safety as an excuse not to make it a priority,’’ Mr Apap said.

He said it was heartening to be singled out for praise,  but also disappointing that the inspection blitz had found evidence of such widespread lack of safety compliance in the sector.

 

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