NSCA Foundation

SafeWork SA responds to CFMEU safety criticisms

Wednesday, 11 September, 2019

SafeWork SA responds to CFMEU safety criticisms

SafeWork SA (South Australia) has responded to comments made by the construction union suggesting it failed to act on safety concerns. The Construction, Forestry, Maritime and Energy Union (CFMEU) released a statement on Thursday, 5 September, claiming that the regulator “fails to seriously investigate safety breaches” after a worker was injured at a Palumbo construction site on 4 September. The union said it had visited the site two weeks prior and “identified numerous safety breaches requiring immediate action, but nothing was done”.

SafeWork SA responded that it “strongly disagrees” with the CFMEU’s comments, explaining that it had visited the site on multiple occasions over the preceding weeks — with some visits relating to CFMEU concerns — and “did not find serious breaches of safety legislation”. They added that the injured worker the CFMEU referred to sprained his knee after tripping over metal bars during a concrete pour — an incident the regulator considered “neither serious nor needing the site closed, as requested by the union”.

“A Prohibition Notice is issued when there is an immediate and imminent risk to the health or safety of a person. This has not been the case on the Palumbo site and SafeWork SA will continue to work collaboratively with the company,” the regulator said. SafeWork SA also responded to criticisms surrounding its prosecution record — where CFMEU highlighted SafeWork SA’s four successful prosecutions in 2019, compared to the 110 conducted by Victoria’s regulator over the same period.

“SafeWork SA receives a large number of calls from CFMEU organisers from interstate who have a different operating style to South Australia. SafeWork SA will continue to objectively and fairly enforce compliance with the safety legislation and help the CFMEU understand the differences in South Australian safety legislation compared to that of Victoria and Queensland,” SafeWork SA said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Olesya Shelomova

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