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Union slams site safety after roller tips over in Coombs

Date

Hamish Boland-Rudder

The pad roller on its side, after the incident.

The pad roller on its side, after the incident.

The construction workers' union will take a building company to court after they were initially refused entry to a Coombs construction site after a five-tonne machine rolled over.

A worker was lucky to escape serious injury after a pad roller ended up on its side after an incident at a construction in the new suburb of Coombs in Canberra’s west on Thursday afternoon. The pad roller is believed  to have slipped off the edge of a small embankment and rolled.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union says it warned authorities about safety on the site less than a week ago, and on Friday morning was initially refused entry to the site.

Union officials said they were only granted access after Work Safe ACT contacted the site managers.

“They refused to allow us to go and investigate the incident,” the union’s ACT branch secretary Dean Hall said on Friday.

Mr Hall said the union would take the company managing the site to court for hindering and obstructing a permit holder.

“With such serious safety issues going on … we cannot afford to be hindered, delayed or obstructed when we’re trying to get to the bottom of why there are serious accidents or serious incidents," he said.

He said on initial observation, he could see no sign-in register for the site, and he claimed the emergency plan for the site was inadequate.

“We believe that there is a systematic failure of safety on the site, and we are now trying to get in contact with the client to point this out to them,” Mr Hall said. “Our position is that all work should cease on the site until they can get basic safety right.”

Despite this, work continued at the site on Friday.

ACT Work Safety commissioner Mark McCabe said a Work Safe inspector checked the site on Friday and issued one prohibition notice, preventing any further trenching work until issues are resolved, and two improvement notices - one relating to access and induction into the site, and one relating to procedures surrounding the use of the pad roller. Work Safe were also discussing traffic management practices with the builders.

The pad roller which tipped over was also subject to a prohibition notice after a Work Safe inspector attended the scene on Thursday afternoon.

The accident was described as potentially fatal and as a ''serious near miss'' by the CFMEU on Thursday night.

No one is thought to have been hurt in the accident, and the ACT Ambulance Service had no record of treating any patients at the site.

Mr Hall said the union had warned of systemic safety problems on the same site just a week earlier.

Mr Hall said the union made an official complaint to WorkSafe ACT and the project's client.

Mr McCabe said Work Safe had received the complaints, however had not been able to investigate prior to the incident on Thursday.

with Christopher Knaus

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