ETU alleges “major safety breaches” at EnergyConnect sites

Aerial shot of wind turbines along Transgrid's EnergyConnect route

SafeWork NSW is reportedly inspecting the worksites of Australia’s largest renewable energy transmission project, Transgrid’s Project EnergyConnect, after the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) claimed to have uncovered major safety breaches.

The ETU alleges to have found dangerous workplace practices and conditions on the sites of Project EnergyConnect, a massive transmission line connecting power grids in South Australia, NSW and Victoria.

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The alleged breaches include the use of non-compliant harnesses and first aid kits, poor food, water and sun safety, unqualified workers conducting electrical work, and no toilets. The ETU also said unreliable mobile-radio communications and inadequate first-aid procedures also recently kept a worker who was suffering a stroke waiting 90 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

“Elecnor is a repeat and reckless offender when it comes to workplace safety on Project EnergyConnect,” ETU national secretary Michael Wright said.

“The fact that the workplace health and safety regulator has boots on the ground to investigate should be ringing alarm bells to Elecnor and Transgrid.

“Apart from being provided some hi-vis clothing and a vehicle, workers have largely been left to fend for themselves on the lines. Workers have been dodging falling objects, and wearing fraying and non-compliant harnesses. When something goes wrong, they’ve waited an eternity for help.

“Our members have been denied basic rights, crammed in crib sheds, and are lucky to score a toilet on site. This cannot be what the energy transition looks like.”

A Transgrid spokesperson responded to the ETU’s claims saying, “Transgrid takes the safety of our employees and contractors very seriously and it is always our first priority when working with our delivery partners on any construction site.

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“Transgrid strives for best practice in all aspects of safety and as such, we drive continual improvement regarding safety standards to ensure they are above and beyond the required compliance levels.

“Our safety systems, our people and their behaviours are supported by protocols which ensure anticipation and mitigation of any safety issues.”

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