Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) officials fear a worker will die on the $100 million-plus sewage works upgrades at Nowra and Bomaderry before authorities step in and force UGL to comply with legislated safety requirements.
The union says UGL, the company responsible for the upgrades to Shoalhaven City Council’s sewage treatment plants, was showing contempt for its workforce through its refusal to lift safety standards.
CFMEU officials this week visited the UGL-run projects and said conditions had worsened since their last safety visit earlier this month.
CFMEU Organiser Maki Danalis said it was an indictment on the Shoalhaven City Council and SafeWork NSW that UGL had not been forced to comply with basic safety and pay conditions on a local government job.
“Government authorities should be leading by example and ensuring that government infrastructure sites are run to the highest standards,” Mr Danalis said.
Government authorities should be leading by example and ensuring that government infrastructure sites are run to the highest standards.CFMEU Organiser Maki Danalis
“Instead at Nowra and Bomaderry we have work sites that are obviously unsafe and a threat to the workers on site.
“The failure of SafeWork and council officials to act shows they hold local workers in contempt and are warned that any death or injury on these sites is on their conscience.”
Among the safety concerns the union noted at the sites was an area where workers could only access the site by crawling on their hands and feet through a narrow tunnel.
“This is something out of the Third World and has no place in a modern work site,” Mr Danalis said.
Other issues the union identified included -
Widespread electrical issues that have still not been fixed.
Unhygienic amenities including mouldy fridges, filthy showers and toilets and spiderweb-covered air-conditioner filters.
Huge fall from heights risks, unsafe access and exits from work areas and no way to evacuate workers from the bottom of deep concrete tanks.
Trip hazards all over the site.
Workers sharing driveways with heavy vehicles with no traffic management in place to minimise the risk.
Defective fire extinguishers across the site and no extinguishers at all in areas with ignition sources.
And pallets used as pit covers, providing inadequate protection for workers.
There was an area where workers could only access the site by crawling on their hands and feet through a narrow tunnel. This is something out of the Third World and has no place in a modern work site.CFMEU Organiser Maki Danalis
In a statement Shoalhaven City Council said the site was under the control of the primary contractor.
“Shoalhaven City Council takes any allegation of non-safe practices very seriously and is working with the contractor to address all of the issues raised,” a council spokesperson said.
“Council is confident the project can continue in a safe and sustainable manner.”
UGL was contacted through its parent company, CIMIC Group, but had no comment to make.