License article

Industry boosts safety conditions for housing sites

OVER THE years we have had deaths on ACT construction sites but fortunately there has been none recently on housing sites under the supervision of a builder. Some projects with owner builders and weekend do-it-yourself renovators have had some serious but not fatal accidents.

Work health and safety is complex and the Worksafe authority is continually training and making contractors and subcontractors aware of their responsibilities.

In 2012 the ACT government released a report with 28 recommendations and the Housing Industry Association supported all except one, that focused on allegations sham contracting was rife through the industry. There may be isolated instances but they had nothing to do with WH&S issues. However the CFMEU had a campaign on this issue when the report was released.

The report also focused on the poor record in the ACT, which was true. However recent audits by government revealed that on large commercial construction sites in the ACT breaches of processes and procedures were consistent with interstate companies.

These breaches were not serious but it reinforces that the ACT industry is not all that bad. Again I must say that any injury or death is one too many.

The HIA has been working with WorkSafe and the ACT government on many of the recommendations in the Getting Them Home Safely report.

Recently the HIA produced a WH&S housing code of practice that sets out key considerations and requirements for housing sites which will be incorporated into the current commercial code of practice designed for commercial and industrial sites and buildings.

This new version will make it easier for domestic builders to use and comply with their WH&S obligations and will be well received by the housing industry in the ACT. The government agreed on May 1 to adopt the housing provision.

Neil Evans is Housing Industry Association ACT executive director.