Shoalhaven sewage project a real stinker for workers

Generic photo of man with a broken leg. An accident on site caused a worker to break his leg last week. Picture: Mark Tristan

Generic photo of man with a broken leg. An accident on site caused a worker to break his leg last week. Picture: Mark Tristan

A $100 million Shoalhaven City Council infrastructure job has just one working fire extinguisher on site, and multiple issues around safety and working at height protection for workers.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) visited the UGL-run project to upgrade Shoalhaven City Council’s sewage treatment plants on Tuesday.

CFMEU officials said workers lives were being placed at risk by the shocking conditions.

Officials were called to the site by workers concerned about conditions following an accident last week in which a worker’s leg was broken.

CFMEU organiser Maki Danalis said the union had been told by workers that unsafe conditions on the site were also being exacerbated by the company pushing workers to continue in the rain.

Among the safety concerns the union noted at the Bomaderry site were major issues around lack of safety barriers for working at heights, workers with no protective clothing cutting fibreglass with a grinder without the area being cleared fibreglass dust covering nearby workers and equipment, workers forced to access to work areas down perilous dirt slopes with uneven ground and steep angles, all, except one, fire extinguisher on site defective or untagged, filthy amenities for workers and workers forced to do concreting work immediately adjacent to exposed pits with uncapped reo bars exposing them to risks of impalement and falls from heights.

Mr Danalis said the sub-contractor on the project Mikcon had also failed to pay workers their superannuation – a legal requirement.

“We raised similar concerns around the safety on the Nowra site with UGL more than a month ago and it has failed to act and ensure safety on the site is rectified,” Mr Danalis said.

“Given the severity of the issues on this site, the injury last week, and the very real prospect that other workers may be injured due to these recurrent safety problems, we are calling on Shoalhaven City Council to step in and demand UGL lift its game immediately.

“The Council should also demand legal entitlements such as superannuation are paid in full.”

The union has notified SafeWork NSW of the safety breaches and has asked them to act on the issue.

UGL has been contacted for comment.