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nbn fatality

NBN fatality highlights contracting problems

A contractor working on the NBN in Katoomba, NSW has been killed as a result of a drilling accident.

The death has highlighted the dangers which the CWU believes are inherent in the workforce model being used on the project. 

The worker was employed by Rockfield Contracting which specialises in boring and drilling services. Rockfield was in turn a sub-contractor of Visionstream which is one of nbn’s “delivery partners”. As the CWU has repeatedly pointed out, this pyramid contracting structure leads to those at the bottom of the heap being exposed to the most risk. 

Those risks are both financial and, unfortunately, physical. Small operators at the base of the pyramid face tight margins, while training and supervision – the key to avoiding such accidents – represent costs.

So there is a constant pressure to cut corners when it comes to safe procedures and work quality. 

CWU President Shane Murphy called on nbn to ensure that subcontracting companies working on the project delivered a safe system of work for their employees. 

He also pointed to the fact that directional drilling machines such as the one involved in this incident can be operated without any certification. 

“No ticket is required to operate the drilling machine Mr Walsh was working with when he died,” he said. 

“The CWU urges the Federal Government, nbn and Comcare to ensure there is mandatory training and certification for all workers using drilling machines.”

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