Unions Condemn Queensland’s New Workplace Safety Proposals

Unions have spoken out against the Queensland government’s move to change workplace safety laws. The unions have argued that contractors’ and employees’ lives will be placed at risk and ‘cowboy builders’ allowed free rein under the proposed changes.

Under the proposals, unions will be locked out of construction sites for at least 24 hours before they can inspect safety breaches.

Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie argues that the changes are necessary. Bleijie says the changes will allow safety issues to be addressed by the government’s safety regulator and to prevent unions from taking over workplaces. The Property Council has welcomed the proposed changes.

According to Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams, mandating unions to provide notice before entering and inspecting workplaces could lead to cover-ups and danger for employees. Battams says that 24-hour-notice period gives employers too much time to cover up any dangerous practices.

Statistics from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland reveal that seven people died on Queensland’s construction sites in 2012, compared with five in 2011. However, according to SafeWork Australia, injuries and diseases for the industry are in decline, falling from 25.9 to 19.7 for every 1000 workers from 2007 to 2011.

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