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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 July 2018) . . Page.. 2452 ..

consultative body that facilitates cooperation between management and workers to ensure health and safety is paramount. It develops work health and safety standards, rules and procedures for the workplace.

Ensuring that both health and safety representatives and committees are suitably trained raises the competency bar and ensures that those who represent workers are well informed and equipped to promote best practice behaviour. This, of course, will have a flow-on effect across the construction industry. Workers who have worked on major construction projects will bring their knowledge, skills and appreciation of safety culture to smaller construction projects.

Madam Deputy Speaker, we are acting to make construction workers in the territory safe. That is our paramount goal. When workers and employers cooperate they can achieve safer, more productive workplaces. The measures presented in the bill are designed to improve safety on construction sites in the territory so that every single construction worker returns home safely at the end of the day.

I note that Mr Wall commented on the very serious nature of the many workplace accidents and unfortunate deaths that have occurred in the construction industry both across Australia and here in our own backyard. I am sure that, although I am speaking for many members on this side, no-one would disagree with the heartfelt concerns and feelings of loss that go out to those families and the pain that they go through on a daily basis. This bill is an opportunity to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to make sure that workers are safe and protected in their workplace. Thank you.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (5.15): The ACT Greens support the changes proposed in the bill. The intent of the changes is to improve safety in the ACT’s construction industry. The ACT’s construction sector is an area where, unfortunately, the safety record is poor. The ACT construction industry has suffered numerous deaths from workplace accidents. The ACT had the highest rate of construction deaths in the nation. This is not one of the things we want to have the highest of. We also have the highest rate of lost time injuries from injuries such as slips and falls.

In 2012 the government completed its Getting Home Safely report, which investigated the ACT construction industry and made 28 recommendations to improve safety. The government agreed to implement all of these recommendations and has made very good progress. While there is a positive downward trend in construction sector injuries, the rate remains unacceptably high. In 2016-17 two people tragically died from workplace injuries in the ACT. This is an important context to consider as we debate the changes in this bill.

The consequences of workplace safety failures in the construction industry are very serious. Often they are literally life or death. If something goes wrong on a construction site, a person can be killed or very seriously injured. While health and safety is important in all sectors of the workforce, the consequences are unlikely to be quite as serious as they are in the construction sector. In this regard, the safety culture on construction projects is critical. It can take only one oversight, one neglected issue, one lax moment, and a person can die or be critically injured. Safety needs to take a prominent place in the culture of the construction industry.

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