Property developer Mainline Developments has pleaded guilty in the Melbourne County Court and received a $125,000 fine for putting workers and the public at risk of serious injury or death during the construction of a residential complex at Narre Warren, Victoria. The company faced four charges over safety breaches, after WorkSafe inspectors observed the safety breaches on six separate visits to the site between 15 January and 15 March 2018. The construction site had no precautions to prevent workers from falling from roofs, with inspectors noting workers using sections of scaffolding with missing planks.
Bushfire response and recovery information
Fire damaged buildings and properties can pose unique and unexpected risks to the health and safety of workers who undertake clean-up and recovery operations.
Planning and preparation are vital to determine the safest method for the required work.
The Federal Government is looking for ways to improve the operation of the Building Code.
The government has released a discussion paper that it says aims to improve fairness, efficiency, safety and productivity and sets higher standards of conduct for businesses that wish to carry out work on Commonwealth-funded building and construction projects.
Persons conducting business and undertaking (PCBUs) have obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2017 to provide and maintain a safe working environment for workers, so far as is reasonably practicable. PCBUs may have staff affected by smoke caused by the current bushfire emergency while working indoors or outdoors, particularly during periods of significant bushfire activity. While PCBUs cannot control the movement of bushfire smoke, they can control where, how and when workers undertake their duties.
Waste management company Bradbury Industrial Services has been charged with breaching the Dangerous Goods Act for chemical stockpiles at a Campbellfield warehouse, and is facing seven offences under sections 31 (1) and section 45 of the Act. WorkSafe Victoria alleges that the company, which is now in liquidation, failed to take all reasonable precautions to prevent fire or explosion of dangerous goods at the site.
The Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders in Australia (WMSDs) report provides a comprehensive and authoritative resource on WMSDs.
WMSDs are the most common type of work-related injury in Australia, accounting for 55 per cent of all serious workers’ compensation claims in 2015-16.
Australia is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (2019-nCoV) first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of 2019-nCoV as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Only a limited number of cases have been confirmed in Australia and you can access the latest updates from the Australian Government Department of Health.
Influence of global economy greater than ever
The growing urbanisation of Asia and the rising living standards in both China and India have had a significant impact on the growth of exports. Current economic surveys within Australia are reporting sharp declines in expected growth including the construction sector over the next twelve months, together with more rate cuts by the reserve bank – generally not a sign of a robust economy.
Domenic continued, ‘The past decade has seen significant volumes of construction work being undertaken around the country with record levels of dwellings completed, adding much needed stock for the growing population. Associated roads, social infrastructure and commercial development is following this housing surge backed by significant inputs by federal and state governments.’
He added, ‘We are now however in the midst of slowing segments of the construction industry. The tightening of finance, changes to planning requirements in the larger cities and reduction in foreign investment, are all having an impact on both the commercial and residential sectors.’
Consumer confidence impacts new apartment projects
Falling consumer confidence due to the cladding and structure issues within the residential multi-storey market is impacting on the commencement of new apartment projects. Recent government initiatives such as the $600m cladding initiative from Victoria and the appointment of a Building Commissioner in NSW will give some much needed confidence to the market if both initiatives produce results in a timely manner.
According to the latest ABS results, construction work done fell by 6.4% for the 12 months ending June 2019. In nominal terms this was 36.8% above 2010 numbers.
Even with the slight fall, the industry achieved construction work done of $217 billion for the 12 months to March 2019, which is 8% above the decade average of $204 billion. Currently a workforce of almost 1.2 million is employed to deliver the current volume of work done.
Construction workforce to fall
As infrastructure projects ramp up, and building works soften, the construction workforce will fall as lesser numbers of workers are required to deliver infrastructure projects than residential or commercial projects.
Domenic concluded, ‘Despite the slowdown across the country, construction cost pressures are being seen in labour and materials that are common to both building and infrastructure projects as we see the transition from a building projects led sector as the many new infrastructure projects transform from enabling works to full construction across the country.’
For 2020, RLB is forecasting construction cost growth of 4,0% in Adelaide, 3.0% in Brisbane, 3.0% in Canberra, 1.2% in Darwin, 2.5% in the Gold Coast, 3.5% in Melbourne, 2.8% in Perth, 4.0% in Sydney and 3.0% in Townsville.
RLB Australia Construction Market Intelligence Report Q4 2019, https://s28259.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/RLB-Australia-Report_Q4_2019.pdf
From February 2020, inspectors from SafeWork SA will carry out compliance audits on safe work method statements (SWMS) for high-risk construction work (HRCW). SWMS are a key strategy used to reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities in construction sites. HRCW involves 18 activities identified in the WHS Regulations as having significant potential for serious harm from historical national data. SWMS are intended to assist supervisors, workers and other parties at a workplace to understand the requirements that have been established to work in a safe way.
WorkSafe Victoria has charged Alliance CG and Clark Cranes for failing to provide a safe working environment, after a 48-year-old man was killed and a man in his 20s was seriously injured when a kibble laden with concrete fell from a crane on 6 September 2018.
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