Page 2954 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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Throughout October, WorkSafe ACT are running a number of events focusing on safety in four key areas: hazardous chemicals, mental health, tradies’ health, and young workers. The role of WorkSafe as an independent work health and safety regulator is crucial to protecting our workers here in the territory. The Workplace Legislation Amendment Bill, which I introduced in this place in June, makes a number of changes that will improve workers’ safety from both physical and psychosocial hazards. If passed, this bill will implement a number of the recommendations from the Marie Boland review of the national template work health and safety laws. It will also expand work safety incident notification laws to require employers to report sexual assault incidences occurring at their workplaces to the work safety regulator.

These are important reforms to ensure that employers do their bit to protect the health and safety of workers and the Canberra community. These enhancements will provide a more effective deterrence against poor workplace safety practices. They are just some of the measures that this government has enacted to protect workers. The safety of workers is, of course, a priority for this government.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, what protections has the government put in place to improve safety on construction sites in particular?

MR GENTLEMAN: Construction sites are some of the most dangerous workplaces in the city. The collapse of the retaining wall on the construction site in Dickson this week is a timely reminder of the risks that construction workers face on the job every day. Through the workplace safety portfolio, the government has strengthened protections for workers on construction sites. Our most recent measures are to deal with silica. The more that we learn about silicosis, the more evident it becomes that this is a devastating and debilitating disease. I am proud that the ACT is leading the nation by banning uncontrolled dry cutting and mandating training for those working with silica-containing materials.

Eliminating exposure to silica dust is the most effective control measure for controlling the risk of exposure. Where exposure cannot be eliminated, any exposure to silica dust must be minimised as far as reasonably practical. I am committed to acting in the best interests of our workers. Our actions will always be guided by science and evidence.

We also made the ACT tower crane code of practice. The code of practice was developed with the support of business groups, employers and unions to ensure the PCBU’s understanding of how to comply with their legal obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act. WorkSafe ACT have also continued their enforcement activity, specifically targeting commercial and residential construction, to ensure that these worksites meet our tough safety standards.

I want to thank and recognise the many union members—in particular, the CFMEU—who have fought tirelessly for reforms to help protect construction workers. They understand that a healthy and safe worksite is the best thing for their sector and the territory’s economy.

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