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Construction workers the 'most likely' to be injured or killed at work

30 April, 2014

A worker is seriously injured or dies every six minutes in the construction, mining and forestry sectors, a rate that is 50 per cent higher than for all other industries combined.

That's the stark message of a new campaign Stand up. Speak out. Come Home., launched last month (Monday 28 April) highlighting the importance of speaking up about the dangers of working in some of Australia's least safe industries.

The campaign features real life stories of lives lost and workers incapacitated in construction, mining and forestry jobs.

Four workers and family members featuring in the campaign were joined at a service in Canberra today by ACTU President, Ged Kearney, and CFMEU National Secretary Michael O'Connor. The service was held to commemorate International Workers' Memorial Day.

"Last year, 91 workers died in sectors our members work in – including 19 in construction, and ten in mining. This year, 23 workers have already died in these sectors. Just this month we tragically lost two miners in the Hunter Valley," Michael O'Connor said.

"One of the most dangerous jobs you can have is as a construction labourer. They are killed at four times the rate of workers in all other jobs.

"Too often, many workers feel they can't speak out, or stand up to their employer – with devastating consequences. That's why unions are vital. We will always take a stand so that workers can come home safely to what matters most.

"But our ability to stand up for safety is compromised by federal government witch-hunts on unions."

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the international evidence was clear that trade unions save lives.

"Around the world, unionised workplaces experience fewer accidents and have better health and safety records. And it's union campaigning that has built today's workplace health and safety systems.

"Despite the dangers in the construction sector, the federal government wants to re-establish the ABCC which greatly restricts when workers and unions can act to address workplace health and safety risks."

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Martin Moran | Monday, May 19, 2014, 11:25 AM
In 49 years working in the construction industry I have seen amazing changes in workplace safety. Good safety does not cost money it saves money plus heart ache and hardships. It has to be a whole of project attitude and unfortunately old attitudes in both labour and management are hard to overcome. Labourer's tend to be young new people in the industry who do not understand the dangers and need extra coaching and mentoring. It is tragic but we are getting closer every day to a zero harm industry. We just have to work harder.
Quale | Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 5:39 PM
Walked past a construction site in a small country town yesterday, On the fence were many signs saying hard hats, hearing protection, high vis vests etc had to be worn on site. Inside were about a dozen workers and not one were wearing any form of PPE. It seems we still have a long way to go in workplace safety.