WestConnex workers exposed to deadly contaminants


Dozens of workers on the WestConnex Project may have been exposed to a toxic cocktail of poisonous chemicals including asbestos, silica dust and lead in a shocking safety breach uncovered by the CFMEU NSW.

“Once again construction workers have their health put at risk by a company that has taken short cuts on safety,” said Darren Greenfield, CFMEU NSW Construction Secretary.

“The serious contamination and poor containment on the M4-M5 Link Tunnels site in St Peters run by Lendlease Engineering must serve as a wake-up call to the industry that they cannot take short cuts on safety.”

“Workers at the site raised concerns with the union after drilling works turned up a black sludge material that stank and which ate away at the bottom of their work boots.”

“A recent hygienist report found a toxic soup of contaminants at the former landfill site including asbestos, lead, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs), PCBs, and dioxins.”

“Safety inspections at the site revealed workers had been supplied with insufficient PPE, air-monitoring equipment was not working and that contaminated spoil from excavation work was not appropriately isolated.”

“It is outrageous that workers are exposed like this and yet again it takes the union’s intervention to force a company to improve safety on their site.”

“It has now been revealed that the City of Sydney also warned that land adjoining the site which was set aside to become parkland is too highly contaminated for public use. How is it that the site is not safe for public recreation, but it is good enough for construction workers to dig up and work in?”

“The company and the NSW Government knew this site was highly contaminated, yet they have allowed construction workers to be exposed to toxic chemicals. Why does it take the union getting involved for these workers to find out what the company and authorities already knew about contamination risks at the site?”

“It is a shocking state of affairs and shows how some members of the industry in NSW pay lip service to safety while ignoring genuine risks.”

NSW safety blitz reveals widespread breaches

“The WestConnex site is one of the worst for safety breaches uncovered by the CFMEU during an ongoing safety blitz on Sydney and NSW construction sites.”

“The union has uncovered significant safety issues on some of Sydney’s biggest construction sites in recent weeks. These include a Lendlease Building site in Sydney where workers were exposed to a risk of a six-storey fall over an unprotected edge, a major power failure at the Multiplex site in Wynyard just last week that brought work to a standstill, raw sewerage from broken pipes leaking at the Crown Casino site in Barangaroo.”

“The CFMEU had also raised safety concerns at a demolition site in Gosford where a scaffolding subsequently collapsed into the street in August, injuring one woman, destroying several cars and narrowly avoiding catastrophe.”

“The union also attended a site on Thursday where a crane had almost toppled into an open pit on a site in Petersham.”

“NSW builders need to stop taking short cuts on safety. The union will not back down from holding to account any builder who thinks they can put their profits ahead of the lives and safety of construction workers.

Master Builders NSW undermining safety on construction sites

“Despite the widespread issues the union has identified on construction sites in recent times the NSW Master Builders Association have been actively working against improving the safety culture across the industry.”

“Brian Seidler and the NSW MBA are giving their members a free pass to ignore the safety of construction workers and the public. It is not good enough and will result in more dangerous incidents that threaten people’s lives unless they come to their senses and accept that safety needs to be the industry’s number one priority.”

/Public Release.