A 16-year-old with virtually no construction experience appears to have been inducted onto a worksite as a "carpenter" the day before he fell seven metres down a staircase void.
Serious questions are being asked about the level of supervision given to the youth while he worked at the Coles worksite in Amaroo late last month.
The teenager was working on the site as part of the Master Builders Association's KidsAssist scheme, a program designed to put students at risk of dropping out into trade apprenticeships.
He is believed to have fallen from a stepladder down a staircase void, causing serious injuries, including a crushed shoulder, damaged vertebrae, and internal injuries. The CFMEU says he has been forced to have a metal rod put into his back.
WorkSafe is currently investigating the accident, and the Education and Training Directorate is understood to have met with the MBA about the scheme, which the association has temporarily put on hold.
Fairfax has seen documents showing the the boy was inducted onto the worksite a day before his fall as a "carpenter" who was employed by the "MBA".
He was also allowed to sign a safe work method statement – a critical document identifying risks and hazards at a worksite – as a carpenter. Other workers had signed the same document as apprentices.
That statement identified the risk of falling at the worksite, and said it would be controlled by having "all workers competent and trained in working at height". The boy had spent just one day on a worksite before the accident.
The risk was also to be mitigated by having "robust physical barriers" to prevent anyone falling any distance "likely to cause injury".
The documents reignite questions about the level of supervision the teenager was given on the site.
Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones said his agency was currently investigating, and would review all relevant documentation.
"Our investigation will cover all aspects of his training, his induction, and his supervision while he was on site," he said,
"The whole package will be looked at, in terms of what led to his fall."
Asked whether a prosecution was likely, Mr Jones said he did not want to pre-empt the investigation.
It is unclear whether the teenager's family has engaged a lawyer.
CFMEU ACT branch secretary Dean Hall said it appeared the boy had been assumed to be a fully-qualified carpenter during induction.
He said he planned to meet with the Education and Training Directorate about the KidsAssist program.
"I'm deeply concerned about the duty of care, how the MBA has failed in their duty of care to this child," he said.
"Do you send them off to work experience for them to come home with a rod inserted in their back?"
MBA executive director Kirk Coningham said the investigation was being left to WorkSafe. He said there was no ambiguity that the boy was in the KidsAssist program, and it would have been "very, very plain" to everyone that the teenager was too young to be anything but an apprentice.
Mr Coningham said the KidsAssist program was currently not operating, and was being reviewed to ensure supervision and safety requirements were sound.
"We've worked with the department and got some measures on that program to improve its supervision," he said.
"It's a very intensive, very closely supervised program, but quite clearly the supervision was inadequate with that void being there.
"I'm confident that WorkSafe will be robustly supportive of the program ... it was actually put to me that he probably received more training than most day labourers."
The association is continuing to meet with the education directorate, and would be likely to restart the KidsAssist scheme next week.