Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Electrical Contracting, Service Industry and Equipment Technicians

Safety chaos at Barangaroo, Two workers injured after being exposed to Energised Circuits.

Paul Lister - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In the past two weeks, in separate incidents, two workers have come in to contact with energised circuits as Lend Lease Building rush to commission Tower 3 at Barangaroo South for clients. Contractor Stowe Australia, are responsible for the commissioning and it appears that both dangerous incidents occurred after cable ends were left bare as testing was being carried out.

The ETU found out Thursday that the first of the two incidents resulted in Safework visiting the site after being notified. It is understood that NO improvement notice or prohibition notice was issued by Safework inspectors.

Stowe Australia has already been involved in several dangerous incidents at the Barangaroo South site. It is believed the second incident in as many weeks again involved Stowe Australia in a similar incident involving exposure to energised circuits. On the second incident Safework did not attend the site nor did they intend going to the site to investigate the dangerous incident. 

ETU Organiser Stewart Edward said Stowe Australia and SafeWork NSW needs to lift their game.
“It is totally unacceptable that Safework NSW could be so lenient when it comes to workers having electric shocks on the largest site in Australia.” Stewart said.

"Is it going to take the death or serious injury of a worker for Safework NSW to enforce the law on this site and across NSW?”

Safework NSW eventually responded by sending inspectors to the site but only after repeated call from the ETU. It is believed that again no improvement notices were issued by the inspectors. 

Lend Lease building has suspended all productive work involving Stowe Australia at Barangaroo South until an investigation has been completed by Safework NSW.   Stewart Edward has called on senior officers from Safework NSW to meet the ETU and other unions as a matter of urgency as the most recent incidents are not the first involving electric shocks at Barangaroo.

ETU calls on Safework NSW to act over NECA’s ‘failure to notify’ of electric shock to apprentice.

Paul Lister - Thursday, March 17, 2016

On Tuesday 14 March at a John Holland’s site in Alexandria a young apprentice received an electric shock having been exposed to an energized electrical circuit.  The apprentice was employed by National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and was working with host company Barmwell Cambridge.

After suffering an electric shock the apprentice was taken to hospital and has since made a full recovery. Serious questions remain with regard to supervision of the apprentice and also the aftermath of the dangerous incident.

The Electrical Trades Union visited the site to investigate, this is the second time ETU organiser Stewart Edward has visited the site in the last month over safety concerns.  Unbelievably in both safety breaches neither the builder John Holland nor the contractors involved have notified the state regulator charged with overseeing the health and safety of workers in NSW.

John Holland assert that they are only required to notify the commonwealth regulator, Comcare.  John Holland management on site insisted that they are not responsible for notifying the state regulator that they only have to tell the contractor (or PCBU) to notify SafeWork NSW about a 'serious incident' or 'dangerous incident'. On both occasions it was the ETU who informed SafeWork NSW of the notifiable incident.

ETU Organiser Stewart Edward said that no one, including the apprentices’ employer NECA Group Training, had bothered to notify the safety regulator.

"When I phoned SafeWork this morning no notification had been received about the electric shock including from the apprentices’ employer".

John Holland management claimed that 3 people had attended the site to investigate the incident however it has been revealed that these 'inspectors' were actually from NECA and no-one from Safe-work NSW had attended the site.

John Holland has taken steps to have all apprentices cease work on the site until a full investigation is carried out by SafeWork NSW. The ETU is increasingly concerned about supervision of ap-prentices in the industry and is calling on SafeWork NSW to ur-gently address the current situation.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 is very clear about “a person who conducts a business or undertaking” or PCBU. See below your rights regarding notifiable incidents.

38 Duty to notify of notifiable incidents
(1)  A person who conducts a business or undertaking must ensure that the regulator is notified immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident arising out of the conduct of the business or undertaking has occurred.
(a) In the case of an individual—$10 000.
(b) In the case of a body corporate—$50 000.
(2)  The notice must be given in accordance with this section and by the fastest possible means.
(3)  The notice must be given: (a) by telephone; or

Example: The written notice can be given by facsimile, email or other electronic means.
(4)  A person giving notice by telephone must:
(a)  give the details of the incident requested by the regulator; and
(b)  if required by the regulator, give a written notice of the incident within 48 hours of that requirement being made.
(5)  A written notice must be in a form, or contain the details, approved by the regulator.
(6)  If the regulator receives a notice by telephone and a written notice is not required, the regulator must give the person conducting the business or undertaking:
(a) details of the information received; or
(b) an acknowledgement of receiving the notice.
(7)  A person conducting a business or undertaking must keep a record of each notifiable incident for at least 5 years from the day that notice of the incident is given to the regulator under this section.
(a) In the case of an individual—$5000.
(b) In the case of a body corporate—$25 000.

39 Duty to preserve incident sites
(1)  The person with management or control of a workplace at which a notifiable incident has occurred must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, that the site where the incident occurred is not disturbed until an inspector arrives at the site or any earlier time that an inspector directs.
(a) In the case of an individual—$10 000.
(b) In the case of a body corporate—$50 000.
(2)  In subsection (1) a reference to a site includes any plant, substance, structure or thing associated with the notifiable incident.
Work Health and Safety Act 2011 No. 137, 2011 43

Incident notification Part 3 Section 39
(b) in writing.
Part 3 Incident notification Section 39
(3) Subsection (1) does not prevent any action:
(a)  to assist an injured person; or
(b)  to remove a deceased person; or
(c)  that is essential to make the site safe or to minimise the risk of a further notifiable inci-dent; or
(d)  that is associated with a police investigation; or
(e)  for which an inspector or the regulator has given permission.

Apprentice numbers down as Liberals & Nationals gut TAFE

Paul Lister - Friday, March 04, 2016

The ETU is seriously concerned at the latest figures which show the number of people undertaking an apprenticeship - including in the electrical trades - has plummeted.

Shadow Minister for Skill's David Harris pointed out today that the number of apprenticeships being undertaking in September last year was 82,600 down from 146,200 in 2010.

This drop of almost 50% in five years is alarming. At the same time the ETU has witnessed a reduction in the quality of trade outcomes following the implementation of "Smart & Skilled" which has financially gutted the TAFE system and reduced face to face training time.

ETU Secretary Steve Butler said that this is a worrying trend which is not reversed will have severe consequences for all trades right across NSW.

"We have had feedback from many employers saying that the quality of apprentice training has dropped significantly." Steve said.

"On the job employers are seeing a drop off in the skills of apprentices particularly around competency and safety."

"The ETU has commissioned research into trade outcomes to help identify the problem and how it may be addressed."

"We have already started talking to MPs about changes and we will have more to say on this front later this month." said Steve.

Downer Orica ETU members forced to hold Protected Action Ballot.

Paul Lister - Thursday, March 03, 2016

The ETU, on behalf of members working for Downer’s Construction Division at Orica, has today filed for a Protected Action Ballot after management totally ignored ETU members log of claim in agreement negotiation’s.

During negotiations management told employees that they are seeking to cut wages and conditions by 7% to 10% despite the company CEO, Grant Fenn, taking home a salary package of $3.7 million (Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 2015.

ETU Organiser Steve Bankes pointed to other areas where the company is splashing money around including an expensive corporate rebranding, major sponsor of the Auckland Nines and healthy dividends for shareholders.

“It appears that Downer are happy to splash money around and invest in everything except their workforce.” Steve Bankes said.

“It’s not as though our guys were seeking massive pay increases or a long list of new conditions, all we wanted was a fair deal with a decent wage outcome.”

Negotiations have been ongoing for many months but have collapsed after Downer management dug their heals in and refused to change their position. Some of managements demands include…

  • 1 year wage freeze
  • Increasing the work week from 36 hours to 38 hours
  • Reducing MERT from $75 to $30 per week
  • Cutting apprentice rates, and;
  • Reducing total amount of take home allowances

On the contrary the ETU’s log of claim included modest outcomes including a 4% pay rise per year, minor changes to some wording, payment of $150 per year to cover the cost of work boots and CPI increase to allowances among some other items.

The Fair Work Commission today approved the unions application to conduct a Protected Action Ballot unopposed and members will receive voting papers in the coming weeks. THE ETU IS URGING ALL MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THE PROTECTED ACTION BALLOT BY VOTING YES TO ALL QUESTIONS.

If members have any questions please direct these to Steve Bankes sbankes@etunsw.asn.au or 0414 877 553.