Page 2012 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013
(e) six monthly review and report on actions taken and progress made in relation to the Getting Home Safely report.”.
MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (12.00): I rise to support Mr Gentleman’s motion today on the important matter of workplace safety in the ACT. As I have said previously in this Assembly, workplace safety is the backbone of any progressive set of workplace laws. For more than 10 years now the ACT government has been committed to constantly improving the safety and workers compensation laws of our city.
Even though the ACT is limited by federal legislation about what we can do to protect our working people, we are always striving to improve safety in our workplaces, whether it is our public servants, cleaners, carers, tradies or our construction workers, where there have been far too many injuries and deaths on construction sites.
I want to talk on a range of themes during my speech this morning. I will touch on some of the recommendations from the Getting home safely report, and I will talk about the need for continued dialogue between workers through their union, employers through their associations and government. The getting them home safely report was an inquiry into workplace health and safety laws in the ACT’s construction industry. The committee was established to look into the industry after three workers died on construction sites in the ACT over the last year and a half. The report made a number of significant recommendations that I believe are relevant for all industries across the ACT, especially those that require workers to work in potentially dangerous or labour-intensive sectors. I commend the government for establishing the industrial magistrates court this year, and I look forward to seeing the full implementation of all the recommendations in the report as soon as possible.
One of the key findings from the report was the need to change the culture on construction sites to bring a greater focus on the importance of safety to our workplaces. It was great to see the government recently launch the speak up about safety campaign, a campaign that encourages workers to talk openly about safety at work and to encourage their colleagues and work mates to speak up as well.
It is so important for members in this community and this city to know that they have the right to speak up about safety at work. In my previous role at United Voice I saw many workers, especially those from migrant backgrounds, who were too afraid to say something if they thought their safety was being compromised. But it is not just the workers who have the responsibility to make safety at work the number one priority. As Mr Corbell talked about earlier, employers and their peak organisations also have tremendous responsibility to ensure that the workplaces they expect their workers to work in are safe and that they are not exposed to dangerous practices or conditions.
Kay Catanzariti, the mother of young builder Ben, who died in a workplace accident on 21 July 2012, pleaded in the Canberra Times in September of last year for the industry and the government to listen. She said:
My son's death should not have happened. This kind of tragedy should never happen in today's modern society, but it did. Please just stop and think, lives are irreplaceable, they can never be restored, buildings go up and down every day, money comes and goes.