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Date PostedAugust 11, 2013

Construction Giants Safety Failings Discussed

One construction company that has been at the centre of a lot of contention within the construction industry, especially among workers and the CFMEU is Grocon. A number of incidents which occurred on the construction giant’s sites have made national news and even sparked protest action by workers in certain states.

An article on TheAge.com.au recently attempted to discuss the problems associated with the construction company and what may be the cause of its safety issues.

One of the most concerning safety incidents that happened on a Grocon site was when a five kilogram piece of concrete fell 8 levels to the ground during demolition works, onto a busy city street.

Who can forget the huge march in Melbourne when thousands of construction workers protested after an accident which killed 3 people when a wall on one of the company’s sites collapsed? That incident seemed to be the last straw for workers and the CFMEU who have been at logger heads with the company about safety disagreements relating to safety reps on Grocon sites.

Another tragic Grocon accident involved an experienced crane driver who fell to his death at another Grocon site.

The following excerpt taken from the post on TheAge.com.au explains more about the accusations made against the company

2Fairfax Media requested through freedom of information all WorkSafe reports on safety incidents at the company’s sites in recent years.

The reports show that the builder seriously infringed safety requirements at least four times between February 2011 and February this year, and was once ordered to immediately stop work to improve safety conditions.

Included in the material provided by WorkSafe were 14 reports of less serious incidents on Grocon sites that resulted in either minor injuries to workers or warnings from the safety regulator.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/grocons-safety-failures-20130424-2if8f.html#ixzz2Z7CGUoNo

Many have suggested that although Grocon’s incidents seem to have made the news more than others, Grocon is not the only construction company that needs to pull up its socks when it comes to safety. Grocon’s behaviour is indicative of a wider problem within the construction industry but because of their size and because they are a national company they have become the poster child for construction safety breaches.

In the article Grocon spokeswoman Jane Wilson said the building industry by its nature presented risks that needed to be managed. She went on to explain,

”We believe we have a record as good as any in the industry and one of the lowest time-lost-to-injury rates,” Ms Wilson said, citing a safety award that the company received from regulator Safe Work Australia last year.

However, an experienced construction worker said that safety standards across the industry were slipping and that major builders such as Grocon needed to improve. ”Other companies aren’t doing much better,” she said.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/grocons-safety-failures-20130424-2if8f.html#ixzz2Z7CGUoNo

According to WorkSafe statistics more than 17,000 injury claims were made in the past 5 years within the construction sector. These claims allegedly make up almost $1 billion in treatment, wages and other expenses. But some people still blame Grocon for neglecting safety in the name of productivity. In fact according to the Vic head of The CFMEU, the latest 3 fatalities at a Grocon site last month prove this. The post went on to explain,

”It was their site, they were in charge of it, and the wall has come over and killed three people,” said the union’s state secretary, John Setka.

Mr Setka defended the march from the CUB site next Tuesday morning, saying it was not inflammatory.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/grocons-safety-failures-20130424-2if8f.html#ixzz2Z7CGUoNo


Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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