Another workplace death raises safety questions

Another workplace death raises safety questions

THE most basic expectation an employee in Australia can have when they go to work is that they return home.

Yesterday Canberra construction workers were reminded, yet again, of the dangers of their chosen occupation.

When a young construction worker aged in his 20s was killed at a Kingston construction site, he became the fourth person to die in a workplace accident in Canberra this year.

The deaths have all been concentrated in the territory's building industry.

In December last year, Wayne Vickery was run over and killed by an excavator at a suburban building site.


A self-employed painter working alone was killed in March after slipping and falling from the roof of a one-storey home.

In the same month a truck driver was electrocuted after his vehicle struck power lines.

Then there are the injuries and near misses.

This month, concrete chunks from the high-rise Nishi construction site rained onto vehicles below and, according to one union, could have killed someone.

After yesterday's accident - the causes of which are yet to be ascertained - in which a person did die, family members and workmates will undoubtedly be looking for answers.

In fact, the debate which will arise from this latest death will have added impetus because the fatalities are piling up and because we are only months away from an ACT election.

If there is greater scrutiny of workplace rules and their oversight and of the education provided to workers, it can only be useful.

But there should be debate, though the issue is too important to be allowed to become some sort of political football. It must not be exploited for short-term electoral gain.

The most valuable achievement which can be made in any debate that follows is that any gaps in the ACT's workplace safety system are identified and filled in as quickly as possible.

In April - when there had been three deaths in workplace accidents over four months - ACT unions held a rally to promote the message: ''If things go wrong, it's people who pay the price''.

Sadly, the greater awareness these workers tried to drum up could not save this young man's life.

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