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2017-06-20

health and safety

Contracting out: a threat to health and safety

A recent incident at a Telstra exchange has once again highlighted the health and safety risks that can arise from contracting out.

In this case, an NBN sub-contractor entering a Telstra exchange did not notice – or claimed not to notice – an employee working up a ladder. He pushed the ladder aside to gain access to a rack and the employee fell off, sustaining serious injuries.

In the days when Telstra exchanges were staffed, every employee there would be aware of ladder safety issues.

Even today, when exchanges are likely to be empty, Telstra field staff entering a building could be expected to check whether a ladder was being used before moving it.

Proper training, familiarity with the work environment and a sense of collective responsibility that comes from being part of the same workforce would all work in favour of safe work practices.

Erode these factors through outsourcing and add the time-is-money pressures of sub-contracting and you have a recipe for accidents such as this.

The CWU understands that Telstra has approved the compensation claim of this employee. But that is cold comfort to the injured worker.

The aim is prevention, not compensation.

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