A new policy to be adopted by Brisbane construction sites allows workers to walk off the job if the temperature reaches 28 degrees and humidity is 75 per cent or more.
Backed by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the controversial policy has faced criticism from industry leaders over fears it could cause significant disruption to ongoing projects.
According to The Australian, there are 140 commercial contractors and sub contractors who have agreed to apply the policy across southeast Queensland.
An agreement with construction giant Multiplex, who won the multi-billion Queen’s Wharf construction contract earlier this year, will mean workers will be allowed to temporarily stop work when the temperature reaches 28 and humidity is 75 per cent or higher three hours or more from the start of a shift.
Data from the Bureau of Meteorology for the last 12 months shows there were 13 days when those hot, sticky conditions were experienced in Brisbane, The Australian reports.
CFMEU and Master Builders butt heads over heat policy
But Master Builders Queensland chief executive Grant Galvin said the new rule could cause chaos in the industry and was “ripe for exploitation” by the CFMEU.
“This will create an occupational health and safety nightmare,’’ he told The Australian.
He pointed out that if the policy was applied north of Brisbane across the rest of the state, there would be little or no work completed due to continuous stopping.
Mr Galvin said when Master Builders questioned workers outside southeast Queensland when querying the legitimacy of health and safety claims, they were informed they were less at risk because they were “used to it”.
Under the new policy, “hot tasks” would be rescheduled to cooler periods of the day while staff will have access to more breaks, cold water, ice machines and fans and coolers. There will also be more staff to allow staff rotation.
Current policy in NSW and Victoria sees workers down tools when the temperature reaches 35.
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