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Bridge collapse likely to trigger major safety changes

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A construction worker who died on a Canberra building site has been honoured by his family, his union and the Federal Government.

Nick Spasovski was helping to construct the Taxation Office building in Civic in 2006 when he fell through a hole with no warning signs.

A plaque has now been unveiled at the building in memory of Mr Spasovski.

Federal Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten says since then there has been change for the better.

"Workplace safety has been improved since the Gillard government got in," he said.

But not according to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

"Things haven't really improved. The construction injury rate over the last five years has increased every year," said CFMEU spokesman Dean Hall.

In August, a Gungahlin Drive bridge over the Barton Highway collapsed during a concrete pour, injuring 18 workers.

Last month, Worksafe was called to a massive concrete pour on Kings Avenue after claims the project did not have fall barriers in place.

The safety concerns about two publicly funded projects might be the catalyst that results in regulatory change.

"The Government's realised that as a result of the bridge collapse there are too many loopholes in the legislation," said Mr Hall.

Mr Hall says a formwork code of practice is just one of the recommendations the union has made to the Government.

"The ACT Government's been in negotiations with us now and have made clear commitments to us around training, improving safety training for workers and also improving their tendering process to greater reflect the importance on safety," he said.

ACT Work Safety says changes to construction regulations are likely to be implemented in response to the bridge collapse.

Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe says investigations into the incident are continuing but it is likely problems with the bridge's formwork were behind the collapse.

He says the authority is looking at how formwork is regulated in other jurisdictions.

"I think there's a high chance we will look at at least adopting a code of practice in relation to formwork," he said.

"Although it really will be up to the Work Safety Council and what it recommends to the Minister."

Reported by ABC News


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