Page 80 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 27 November 2012

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Work safety—report

MS BERRY: My question is to the Attorney-General. Minister, this week you released Getting home safely: inquiry into compliance with work health and safety requirements in the ACT’s construction industry. This report has raised some serious issues in the ACT construction industry relating to safety. Could you inform the Assembly about what steps the government is taking to act on this report immediately and to adopt urgent recommendations?

MADAM SPEAKER: I presume that you are answering this question in your capacity, minister, as the Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations?

MR CORBELL: Yes, thank you, Madam Speaker. But, to be fair, I did commission the report as Attorney-General, so Ms Berry is half right, and I congratulate her on her first question in this place.

Yesterday I joined with Ms Lynelle Briggs and Mr Mark McCabe, the ACT Work Safety Commissioner, to release Getting home safely, the report into compliance with occupational health and safety obligations in the ACT’s construction industry.

This is a sobering report. This report highlights an unacceptable work safety record in the ACT’s construction sector and a disturbingly high level of lack of commitment on the part of the construction sector to work safely and to keep employees safe. It reveals an entrenched culture that sees safety as an administrative burden rather than as a moral obligation and a smart investment for the business’s long-term success.

I would like to thank Ms Briggs and Mr McCabe for their detailed report, which really is a wake-up call for everybody involved in the construction sector in the ACT. The report has made 28 recommendations, and yesterday I outlined the government’s immediate commitment to taking action as well as our longer term proposal for response.

First and foremost the government has agreed to seven recommendations immediately of the 28 made by the report authors. In particular, we have committed to increasing the number of inspectors in the work safety inspectorate as part of our consideration of the forthcoming 2013-14 budget.

We have also decided to adopt a number of other recommendations, including establishing a community-wide or sector-wide target of a 35 per cent improvement in the serious injury claim rate in the construction sector by the year 2016. We have decided to reform legislation to increase the number of work and safety matters where on-the-spot fines can be issued by work safety inspectors. We will continue with the process to establish an industrial magistrate, a reform that has been welcomed across the sector and which was one of the Labor government’s key election commitments.

We will implement better coordination of the work of our building inspectors and our work safety inspectors to make sure we use those resources more efficiently to target and deal with poor practices in the building industry, and we will also undertake

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