NSW launches an inspection blitz on dodgy building sites

By Jarrod
4 Min Read

NSW regulators have launched a blitz of inspections on building sites across the state to enforce safety regulations and crack down on unqualified workers.

Starting last Monday, SafeWork NSW inspectors have been out in the Illawarra region conducting a three-day safety blitz on the safety standards at local building sites.

Inspectors say they are out in force focusing on high-risk factors associated with construction sites, including electrical safety, falls from heights, structural safety and dust diseases.

The safety blitz comes after several serious incidents across the industry this year, including the death of a 20-year-old NSW worker who fell through a skylight opening at a residential construction site.  

SafeWork reports they are taking a zero-tolerance approach to serious safety risks and claim a number of notices, including prohibition and $3,600 penalty notices, have already been issued.

There have also been other notices for poor housekeeping practices on sites, and inspectors are following up to ensure all sites have appropriate incident notification systems in place.

SafeWork NSW Regional Director of Construction Services Laurence Richey said they are committed to driving the industry to ensure all workers make it home safely at the end of their shift.

“The recent history of the construction sector in Wollongong has featured tragic workplace incidents, along with sanctions against builders for unsafe and defective building work,” said Director Richey.

“Serious injury or death are never an acceptable part of the job and SafeWork is committed to ensuring builders are doing everything in their power to make sure neither of those are occur on their worksite.”

Cracking down on unlicensed tradies

Inspectors from the NSW Fair Trading also visited 70 sites along the state’s mid-north coast during a four-day compliance operation last month.

According to NSW Fair Trading Assistant Building Commissioner Matthew Whitton, the operation resulted in $11,000 in fines, seven sites being placed under investigation and a stop work order issued on one apartment complex site.

While inspectors found a reasonable level of compliance on the now shut-down Forster site, a large number of tradies didn’t have appropriate licences for the work being undertaken.

“There has been significant knockdown and rebuild activity on the north coast and in regional NSW,” said Commissioner Whitton in a statement provided to Build-it.

“Developers and builders need to ensure they have the appropriate approvals and construction certificates to undertake the work. If they don’t and just continue to build, the work will be stopped.

Thanks to mounting financial pressures and skill shortages plaguing the industry, many companies have reportedly resorted to employing unregistered and unqualified workers.

Commissioner Whitton said the inspections are part of the Construct NSW transformation strategy to restore faith in the flailing residential building market. 

“Just like this stop work order, if we find issues with the quality of the work or builders not having the appropriate licences or insurances, we will act,” said Whitton.

“We’ve visited sites in Sydney, Albury, the Hunter Valley, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong and now the mid-north coast this year and are taking a proactive approach to ensure building projects are appropriately licensed and complying with the right standards.”

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By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.