Industrial Relations Minister Russell Wortley has wrongly claimed there would be no change to scaffolding requirements under his controversial new work safety laws.
This error by Mr Wortley partly explains why he wrongly claims cost increases under his work safety laws will be “insignificant or minimal”. The Housing Industry Association has estimated a single story cost increase of $20,000 and a double story cost increase of $28,000.
On 5AA on Monday 26 September, Mr Wortley said:
“Look currently existing legislation provides that people working at heights greater than two metres must put controls in place to mitigate the chance of a worker falling from such a height… this requirement will not change under the new legislation nor will it impose greater requirements that don’t already exist.”
“The Housing Industry Association has advised that it is incorrect for Mr Wortley to claim that the Labor Government is not going to impose greater requirements than already exist,” Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Rob Lucas said.
“The HIA has advised that the new two metre height limit for installing scaffolding is much more prescriptive than present guidelines, and the proposed regulations require a risk assessment being conducted for working at any height. This new requirement will mean significant cost increases.
“Whilst there is no specified height limit in the existing regulations, current industry practice is that scaffolding is only installed for work above three metres.
“Given this three metre limit is the usual industry practice it is clear that SafeWork SA has accepted this practice as consistent with existing regulations. In fact the HIA has advised that it is not aware of any prosecutions that have occurred in South Australia for people working at heights of less than three metres on a standard building project.
“The evidence from the HIA and other industry groups clearly demonstrate that it is impossible for cost increases to be ‘insignificant or minimal’ as Mr Wortley claims. Industry groups say many other claims by the Government and unions about cost impacts also cannot be justified. The longer this debate continues the greater will be the focus on Mr Wortley in particular to justify some of the extraordinary claims he has made about his controversial new laws.”