Government contract with Fletchers should be reviewed

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Source: CTU – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Government contract with Fletchers should be reviewed

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Media coverage today of two very serious health and safety breaches on Fletcher Building Sites in Christchurch show that the contract between EQC and Fletchers should be reviewed to ensure stiff penalties for these type of breaches, says Helen Kelly, CTU President.

Two incidents of workers being exposed to Asbestos hazards are reported in today’s Christchurch Press.  Both are on sites directly funded by the Government including through the contract held with EQC.  

“If the reports are correct, Fletchers seem unaware of even a requirement to report sites with asbestos present to the MBIE.  The report that two workers were called to a disciplinary meeting after raising safety concerns with their employer is also a grave concern,” Helen Kelly said.

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“The Government is a major player in funding the rebuild of Christchurch, both through the EQC and directly.  The Government must step up to the plate and demand decent standards from the principals that it employs, like Fletchers, to manage this work.  It knows much of the work will be contracted out by these principals but must include in the contract that this is done safety and must impose penalties when this is not done.  It is useless to have one of its departments expressing concerns about it while another is ultimately responsible for the breach.”

“These asbestos accidents will not only result in serious ill health amongst the reconstruction workforce in years to come but will contaminate houses and effect the health of those living in them for years into the future.”

“The public have lost confidence in the country’s handling of workplace health and safety and rightly so.  If there are two stories in the media today about asbestos there are likely hundreds of others unreported.  No one can be complacent about this and assume after today the matter will be sorted out.  Government is paying for this work, and must ensure the highest standards are in place,” said Helen Kelly.