The Australian Workers' Union has launched legal action against John Holland, alleging that the civil construction giant is illegally hindering its officials from using silica dust monitoring devices.
The AWU has been deeply concerned about the dangerous levels of silica exposure experienced by workers in the tunnelling industry. The union has long criticised John Holland for obstructing thorough testing of air quality in its tunnel projects.
The union will allege John Holland breached the Fair Work Act by denying an AWU offical permission to use a Dust Trak II Aerosol Monitor to test levels of respirable dust at the John Holland/CPB Rozelle Interchange WestConnex – Western Harbour Tunnel on 1 May 2023.
"Tunnelling workers have the right to know what they'll be breathing in when they go underground," said AWU NSW Secretary Tony Callinan.
"Our officials should be able to bring dust monitors on site to inspect, if they suspect that there are safety breaches of the enterprise agreement. It's a very basic principle. But John Holland has consistently refused to allow these monitors on site.
"We've asked John Holland again and again to allow dust monitors on site and they have refused. So now we have to go to court to confirm our right to conduct an inspection where we believe there is a safety breach."
"Unsafe levels of silica dust causes silicosis and silicosis can cause death. We know this to be true. So we will take action to ensure that workers are safe when they go to work.”
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Principal Kamal Farouque, who acts for the AWU said:
“This case is an important test case about the rights of union officials to investigate suspected contraventions in right of entry. A safety inspection about respirable dust cannot properly occur, unless the union official can use a device like the Dust Trak Monitor.”
Anil Lambert 0416 426 722