Posted on 06-9-2016
The Electrical Trades Union was notified by a member of the public that a tower crane working on a Sydney construction site belonging to builder Brookfield Multiplex came into contact with 415v powerlines last Saturday.
The member of the public also notified SafeWork NSW of the incident which occurred at the Saint Patricks Green aged care construction site located on Chapel Street, Kogarah however SafeWork NSW failed to attend the site.
The eye witness told ETU Organiser Stewart Edward that the crane’s chains came into contact with the power lines which resulted in an explosion including arcing and a loud bang. Workers on the form deck were seen to jump and move away from the area when the incident occurred at approximately 8.15am.
Upon attending the site the ETU found that the powerlines in question did not have the necessary “tiger tail” insulation which would have made seeing the wires near impossible.
ETU Organiser Stewart Edward contacted Brookfield Multiplex management to raise concerns over notification of SafeWork NSW, danger of the powerlines and ongoing work at the site. It was the ETU’s view that work should cease until an inspector from SafeWork NSW attended the site. The ETU reached agreement with Brookfield Multiplex management to report back to workers about the incident on Monday morning.
ETU Organisers Fred Barbin and Anthony Stegic attended the site on Monday morning, spoke with workers and inspected paperwork relating to the breach but to their astonishment SafeWork NSW still had not attended the site.
Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011 notifiable incidents must be properly investigated by SafeWork as the states safety regulator. This is yet another example where the regulator has chosen not to attend and investigate a serious safety breach that could have resulted in injury or death to workers or a member of the public.
“It is totally unacceptable for SafeWork NSW to allow a builder to investigate their own serious incidents or dangerous incidents without the attendance and involvement of SafeWork NSW safety inspector.” Said the ETU’s Stewart Edward.
“WHS Laws allow for action to be taken in situations like this but SafeWork NSW continue to allow the industry to effectively self-regulate which in my view will someday result in a tragic outcome.
“To add further insult Safe Work NSW have reverted to sending out a pro-forma email indicating that they have received notification of a possible safety breach, that they will not be attending the site and that the builder can proceed to “disturb the scene”.” said Stewart.
“Serious questions need to be asked following this latest incident including details of the development application, safe work procedures around powerlines in close proximity to construction sites and why these high voltage powerlines were not insulated at the very least.” Stewart said.