Almost half of NSW building sites have dodgy scaffolding, new data reveals

Originally published by Danuta Kozaki on abc.net.au

A mother of a Sydney apprentice who died in a scaffolding collapse says she is not surprised by new data which shows almost half of the construction sites in NSW have non-compliant rigging.

Christopher Cassaniti, 18, was crushed to death when the scaffold he was working on at a Macquarie Park building site came down in April.

The NSW Government said the construction industry had been put on notice after a blitz on more than 700 building sites by SafeWork NSW.

About 44 per cent of the scaffolding on them had parts missing, while unlicensed workers had altered or removed scaffolding components on 36 per cent of sites.

The Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said Mr Cassaniti’s death sparked the latest review.

“One injury is too many, one death is too many so we are doing everything we possibly can,” he said.

“We will be tightening laws, we will be coming after those that are doing the wrong thing.”

Sydney has more ongoing construction than any other major city in Australia, with twice as many cranes operating in the NSW capital than Melbourne, according to the 2018 National Crane Index.

Ms Cassaniti has become a workplace safety advocate since her son’s death and said change could not come quickly enough.

“To me it is not surprising to find that the statistics have come back so bad,” she said.

“I heard the workers complain a lot when they are on site and in dangerous situations.”

She said she did not want her son to become “another statistic”.

“Scaffolders put their scaffolds up, they tag it and then the workers go and use the scaffolding but some remove parts they should not, just to get the job done quickly,” Ms Cassaniti said.

Mr Anderson said an alarming rate of unsafe practices were found, including 84 immediate fines for scaffolding breaches during the audit period.

“It is totally reckless behaviour to put anyone’s life at risk. We will be cracking down. If you do the wrong thing, if you do something wrong you will face the toughest penalties,” he said.

The Shadow Minister for Consumer Protection, Julia Finn, said it was concerning it took Mr Cassaniti’s death to take scaffolding breaches seriously.

“The State Government has committed to strengthening the laws which is a good thing but in the meantime they have not been using the laws they have and doing more inspections and prosecutions,” she said.

Ms Cassaniti is formally launching her foundation set up in honour of her son this weekend.

ScaffShield is a revolutionary anti-tamper locking assembly which eliminates the risk of scaffold ties and couplers from being detached  from fixed scaffolding, thereby reducing scaffold collapse or failure leading to injury and disruptions.

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