Builder falls to his death at Sydney’s Barangaroo site

CFMEU state secretary Brian Parker. Photo by Peter Boyle.

Five hundred construction workers walked off the job following the death of a young worker, who fell 30 metres from scaffolding at the Barangaroo construction site in Sydney on January 9.

The NSW Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) said emergency services were called to the site at 8.30am after Lend Lease construction workers reported that a man had plunged about 30 metres to the ground. Workmates on site attempted CPR, but the 26-year-old was pronounced dead when the paramedics arrived on site.

CFMEU officials said it was still too early to say what made the young worker fall but have concerns about the lack of supervision and mentoring for young workers on site. The union said the young worker had been on the site for only a couple of weeks, was in an area he shouldn't have been and was unsupervised.

Workers on site, some of who witnessed the fall, are being assisted by the CFMEU and counsellors from Mates in Construction, a suicide prevention program for construction workers.

The union has indicated that there will be further investigations and meetings with Lend Lease management, once police inquiries are complete.

CFMEU state secretary Brian Parker told the media: “Another life lost at work is an absolute tragedy and something these workers will never forget. The safe return home from work is something that all workers should expect and demand and something we will always fight for.

"[Prime Minister] Abbott and [NSW Premier] O’Farrell are constantly looking to restrict union officials' right of entry to building sites and still looking to bring harsher penalties to union officials and workers that stop work due to serious injury or fatality at work, rather than imposing harsher penalties on employers when their safety breaches and cost cutting result in the injury or even death of a worker. It’s appalling."

Parker spoke to Green Left Weekly about the serious risks facing workers in the construction industry. "You have statistics such as 62 construction workers killed on the job, nationally, over the past two years," he said. "There needs to be recognition of those lives lost and for the families of those lost."

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