Tradies working on 2.3 billion dollar project “lucky to score a toilet on site”

Jarrod
By Jarrod
3 Min Read

Furious union officers have called out Australia’s largest energy transmission project after a recent inspection uncovered major safety breaches. 

The inspection blitz by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) exposed multiple “dangerous workplace practices and conditions” on Project EnergyConnect sites, a massive transmission line connecting power grids in South Australia, NSW and Victoria.

Among the safety breaches, ETU officers found non-compliant harnesses and first aid kits, poor food, water and sun safety, unqualified workers conducting electrical work – and no toilets.

ETU national secretary Michael Wright said that outside of providing hi-vis and a vehicle, workers have largely been left to fend for themselves. 

“Workers have been dodging falling objects, and wearing fraying and non-compliant harnesses,” said Mr Wright.

“When something goes wrong, they’ve waited an eternity for help.

“Our members have been denied basic rights, crammed in crib sheds, and are lucky to score a toilet on site. This cannot be what the energy transition looks like.”

Recently, unreliable mobile-radio communication and inadequate first-aid procedures kept a worker suffering a stroke waiting 90 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. 

The multi-billion dollar EnergyConnect project was deemed “required” to fortify Australia’s eastern energy market and boost renewable energy supply.

Mr Wright said this isn’t the first time construction company Elecnor, responsible for the projects NSW portion, has been in hot water for site safety. 

“Elecnor is a repeat and reckless offender when it comes to workplace safety on Project EnergyConnect,” he said.

“The fact that the workplace health and safety regulator has boots on the ground to investigate should be ringing alarm bells to Elecnor and Transgrid.

“Building Australia’s largest renewable energy transmission line should be a source of pride, but instead, it seems to inspire greed, risking the safety of hundreds of workers.

With the federal government committing $20 billion towards modernising the nation’s electricity grid as part of the energy transition, the ETU said the resposnibiliy lands on the national leaders and developers to protect workers and raise standards.

“This project has had a horror track record for the rights of workers – safety has been back of mind, wages have been suppressed and corners have been cut,” said Mr Wright.

“Exploitation and unsafe working conditions are making it that much harder to attract the workforce we need to transition the nation to net zero.

“Australia needs Project EnergyConnect to secure Australia’s electricity network, yet clearly Elecnor and Transgrid don’t care about the security of workers who are building it.

“We are getting the job done to stabilise the national grid, but we won’t allow it to come at the cost of workers’ lives and livelihoods.”

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Jarrod
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.

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