Collaboration and information sharing key to supporting work safety, says ACT Workplace Safety Minister


Safety regulatory bodies, unions and industry from the Act and NSW met on Wednesday for the first Cross Border Construction Breakfast for 2018.

Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith also joined the event. She said opportunities for collaboration and information sharing across the sector is important.

“Over the past week, inspectors from the two jurisdictions have undertaken a series of proactive site visits in the ACT and NSW. A focus of the visits has been on identifying risks associated with falls from heights and supervision of young workers,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

“As a result of this inspections, three Prohibition Notices have been issued as a result of no fall protection for workers working from heights, 19 Improvement Notices for poor housekeeping, site security and inadequate or non-existent Safe Work Method Statements for High Risk Work.

“It is imperative that we keep strengthening our safety practices, especially as we increase opportunities for apprenticeships and welcome young workers into the industry.”

The Minister also announced the release of a discussion paper on proposed legislative amendments at enhancing consultation in the construction industry.

“Last year, an independent review into the safety culture in the ACT’s construction industry by the RMIT University Centre for Construction Work Health and Safety Research highlighted the importance of meaningful consultation with workers on work health and safety matters,” she said.

“However the research found that the quality and effectiveness of formal consultation mechanisms was variable, and pointed to a concerning ‘disconnect’ between workers on the ground and management.

“RMIT suggested there were opportunities to review the ways workers are engaged and able to raise concerns about work health and safety and provide meaningful input into the design of safe and healthy ways of working.”

The ACT Work Safety Council endorsed amendments to the Territory’s work health and safety legislation, including:

  • Mandate consultation with workers and their representatives in the establishment of work groups;
  • Mandate the election and training of Health and Safety Representatives;
  • Mandate the election of Health and Safety Committees (HSCs) as well as training for HSC members.

“The ACT Government is committed to improving the safety culture, focus and response in all ACT workplaces and these proposed changes will enable workers to have better input and take more ownership of workplace safety processes and culture,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

“While Government can set the frameworks to support safety in workplaces, we need industry, regulators, industry groups, employers and workers to work together to lift safety awareness and practice across all work sites to ensure workers return home safely to their family and friends each day.”

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