ETU Media Releases

ETU Media Releases

For media enquiries please contact George Houssos on 0418 655 682 or Tim Vollmer on 0404 273 313

WestConnex workers evacuated again from tunnel following generator failure, burst water pipe

Peter Moss - Thursday, February 07, 2019
More than 300 workers were this morning evacuated from sections of the WestConnex motorway tunnels following issues with a generator that provides power to the project, along with a broken water pipe.

It is the second time this week that work has been delayed on the project, with the first incident requiring more than 200 electricians to down tools after raw sewerage overflowed from a portable toilet block into the tunnel.

Electrical Trade Union officials have again attended the site today, with workers involved in the latest evacuation reporting concerns about confusion with the evacuation procedure, which could have dire consequences if a life-threatening incident took place.

ETU Secretary Justin Page said it was very concerning that multiple safety incidents forcing the mass evacuation of workers in the tunnel had taken place this week.

“This is a $16.8 billion infrastructure project, it’s the biggest infrastructure project in the state, yet basic health and safety systems appear to be repeatedly failing, delaying work on the project and putting workers at risk,” Mr Page said.

“One incident might be bad luck, but when each day seems to bring another serious issue, it raises valid questions about how the NSW Government is managing this project.

“In the latest incident, more than 300 workers had to evacuate at about 9.45am when there were issues with the generators that provides power to the tunnels.

“Earlier this week, more than 200 workers had to be removed from the tunnel after raw sewerage leaked from a portable toilet block, running through a section of the tunnel.

“Following both incidents, workers have reported concerns to the union about problems with the evacuation procedures, along with a lack of effective communication from management, which they fear could have deadly consequences if the evacuation was for a life-threatening emergency.

“Not only are these incidents putting the health and safety of workers at risk, each time a major incident stops work on this major infrastructure project it further pushes back the completion date, impacting the hundreds of thousands of motorists who are waiting for it to open.

“The Berejiklian Government need to get off their hands and start taking action to ensure this project can be completed safely and on time.”

Media contacts: George Houssos 0418 655 682 or Tim Vollmer 0404 273 313

Overflowing raw sewerage halts work on WestConnex

Peter Moss - Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Wednesday 6 February 2019
Overflowing sewerage halts work on WestConnex

Work on the electrical fitout of the WestConnex motorway tunnels in Sydney’s inner west has been hit by further delays after raw sewerage overflowed from portable toilets at Haberfield, forcing hundreds of workers to down tools.

More than 200 electricians were forced to halt work following the sewerage leak.

Electrical Trade Union officials this morning met with electricians on the project to investigate their reports of unsafe and inadequate amenities on the $16.8 billion motorway project.

Workers at the meeting also raised a range of other health and safety concerns regarding conditions inside the tunnel, including: poorly maintained access and egress, limited lighting and signage, inconsistent and ad hoc evacuation instructions, and a lack of effective communication.

ETU Secretary Justin Page said union officials this morning carried out inspections of a number of areas of the tunnel, in particular examining the health and safety implications of inadequate and unhygienic amenities.

“Our members are doing their best to get this massive infrastructure project finished, but it’s impossible to do their job when they are being exposed to raw sewerage because management can’t even ensure they have access to functional amenities,” Mr Page said.
“More than 200 electricians were left with no option but to down tools, with their employer sending them home due to the unhygienic and unsafe presence of raw sewerage in their workplace.

“It is absolutely incomprehensible that the state’s biggest infrastructure project, which is costing taxpayers $16.8 billion, can’t even manage to have working toilets.

“It’s time for the Berejiklian Government to put an end to their hands-off management of these massive infrastructure projects and take charge to ensure the health and safety or workers is protected.

“The reason so many of these major infrastructure projects have seen delays, cost blowouts, and serious safety issues is because the NSW Government refuses to actually take responsibility, instead leaving it to private contractors who have proven they are unable or unwilling to manage these projects safely.”

Media contacts: ​George Houssos 0418 655 682 or Tim Vollmer 0404 273 313