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Strong new laws to prevent worksite deaths

New laws will enable Queensland’s building regulator to take action where there is a threat to the safety of workers on building sites.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the laws were in response to deaths on building work sites in recent years, including the death of young labourer Jason Garrels in Central Queensland in 2012 and the recent deaths of two workers at Eagle Farm race course.

“Everyone should return home from work safely at the end of each day. Tragically this hasn’t been the experience for too many families,’ Mr de Brenni said.

“The measures that we are proposing are designed to prevent further tragedy.”

“The recommendations of the Coroner in Mr Garrels’ Inquest made it clear that there is a need for the building regulator, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) to be notified if there is a death or serious injury on a building site,” he said.

“Under proposed law changes, QBCC licensees will have a positive obligation to notify the QBCC about activity on site that could be a work health and safety issue,” he said.

“They will also be required to let the QBCC know if they think, for example, that a person is not complying with an electrical safety notice so that appropriate action can be taken.”

The powers of the QBCC will be strengthened and clarified so that it can decide whether to suspend or cancel a QBCC licence if a licensee has caused death or grievous bodily harm to a person on a building site or is causing risk to the health and safety of a person.

A licence can also be cancelled or suspended if the licensee has been convicted of an offence against plumbing, work health and safety laws and other relevant laws.

“A construction licence should indicate the highest standards of industry conduct.  Holding a licence to be in charge of a building site is a privilege, not a right.

“If you are in charge of a site, and the people who work there, you need to be professional and diligent.

“Our Government is taking steps to strengthen the integrity of our licencing system.

“These new laws will also give the QBCC a proactive role in ensuring work health and safety by allowing them to share information with other government regulators.

“This multi-agency approach will further strengthen work health and safety on Queensland building and construction sites,” Mr de Brenni said.

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