Tradies speak out about dodgy worksites
TWO tragic workplace deaths have prompted terrified tradies to speak up about unsafe construction sites, fearing further accidents.
They say people "wouldn't believe" the near misses taking place, with many sites not checked by safety officials and violence also allowed to run rife.
Their comments come after apprentice form worker Christopher Cassaniti was crushed to death by scaffolding and building equipment at a construction development on Monday and after a 39-year-old man was electrocuted while replacing a power pole on Sydney's North Shore on Wednesday.
Christopher, 18, and another man, 39, became trapped beneath a mountain of twisted steel and cement bricks after the horrific accident at the Ganellen development project in Macquarie Park just after 12.20pm.
On Thursday, Triple M Sydney's Breakfast show Moonman in the Mornin g asked listeners to share their stories about unsafe practices and the responses were alarming.
Producers disguised the workers' voices, many of them too scared to speak out.
A foreman said he had regularly seen near misses - people walking between two moving trucks and others hit by forklifts.
"They've taken half a step through the gap and the trucks have come together," he said.
"I've seen containers drop directly behind somebody.
"In the industry they're called near misses or near hits, it's just a fraction of time you could be in harms way and that's sort of careless behaviour that one day will come up and bite you."
One man who is currently working on a large site said the way workers were pushed showed no one cared about people's safety in the sense of wellbeing.
"I drive 1.5 hours to get to work every morning and two hours home and they want more hours out of me," he said. "I don't even stop for lunch."
He said everyone was trying to get the job done so safety issues went unnoticed.
"They say you can't open the balcony doors because it's not finished or whatever but they're all open," he said.
One caller was even a safety manager himself and said safety was non-existent on many job sites.
"I've seen blokes hurt, I've seen blokes sacked for trying to do the right thing, it's ruined families," he said.
"One bloke got blackballed from the industry and he was a huge safety officer. It was over a helmet. Some bloke from a foreign country wanted to wear his helmet and it didn't meet Australian safety standards and basically it snowballed from there and the guy got run out."
The man said many were too scared to speak out and he was not surprised when he heard about Monday's tragedy.
"I've been in the industry 20 years and I've never seen a safety officer from the government turn up to a job site," he said.
"You've just got to watch what you're doing, mate, just so you can go home sometimes."
"I've even been sacked by a company before. I've seen near misses like you wouldn't believe and nothing ever gets reported.
"I've seen someone on the ground, they were doing some stormwater work with a 30 tonne excavator … the bucket, close to a tonne, slid around and missed me by an inch.
"That's not just the only problem. Violence on site is rife. I've seen so many assaults over things it's not funny. They don't get reported, blokes don't lose jobs. It's huge."
Christopher's death came after a safety blitz in NSW last year that attempted to tackle "widespread noncompliance" with scaffolding guidelines across hundreds of the state's construction sites.
The teenager's grieving family piled on further pressure this week announcing it wanted the government to ensure stringent safety measures were implemented at sites.
"We ask that the government step in and take immediate action and implement stringent measures regarding safety on construction sites," his uncle Joe Cassaniti said in an emotional statement to reporters.
Unions are also joining the call, saying industrial manslaughter laws should be put in place across the country.
Similar laws are in effect in the ACT and Queensland, with Labor wanting to introduce a similar charge in NSW and Victoria.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her heart went out to the young apprentice's family and friends.
"SafeWork NSW is carrying out a full investigation into the incident and a report will be prepared for the coroner," she said in a statement.
"If it is found there is more the Government can do to keep people safe on work sites we will of course take action."