The death of a Telstra contractor while working on a mobile tower in the Northern Territory has highlighted the risks involved in much telecommunications industry work.
The 43 year old man was working at Adelaide River, about an hour south of Darwin, when he reportedly fell some 50-60 metres from the tower to the ground.
The incident is being investigated by local authorities and by Comcare but as yet the CWU has not been able to get any information about the circumstances and likely causes of the fall.
The incident does, however, raise obvious questions for both Telstra and its contractor Aussie Build, about the level of training and supervision being made available to contractor employees and subbies, especially those working in remote locations.
Cutting corners on health and safety is endemic in the telecommunications contracting sector, as the nbn asbestos issue showed not long ago.
Correct health and safety procedures are potentially a cost to the contracting company, as is training and appropriate supervision of sub-contractors. Little wonder then that lives are put at risk, especially when there a few or no witnesses to dangerous work practices.
As of last week, Telstra had stood down Aussie Build, in line with its standard procedures in such circumstances. But Telstra has itself a duty of care here which, unlike Telstra jobs, cannot be contracted out.
The CWU expects to be fully briefed on the causes of this shocking incident once they are established and will be closely monitoring the steps Telstra takes to ensure it cannot be repeated.