The largest infrastructure project in Brisbane is the latest worksite in the country to be hit by claims of unsafe working conditions relating to silicosis.
The Electrical Trades Union says it has found significant issues with the safety procedures at the Northern Portal site of the Cross River Rail Project. The ETU has also accused the site operator of not having the correct emergency evacuation procedures, which the company has denied.
According to the general secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, Peter Ong, the site has the “potential that people could lose their lives.We are not going to allow them to go to work in a tunnel that is unsafe for them.”
“Silica is a dust that is formed when you dig underground, you’re digging into rock formations, rock gives off a lot of dust, that’s silica dust which is found to now be worse than asbestosis,” Ong said
The Queensland state government has requested reports on the independent air quality monitoring implemented by the Cross River Rail Authority, following the end of concreting work within the Northern Portal tunnels of the project.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said they were working with the union. “Construction is a dangerous job, let’s be really clear, and safety has to be the number one priority,” Bailey said.
“When someone raises an issue of safety we take it seriously and we will work with them to ensure it’s resolved.”