Serious safety concerns in the construction industry has prompted a St John's Ambulance volunteer to launch a project to push for greater health and safety on construction sites.

Last month, 44-year-old builder Bo Sun died after falling off a residential construction site in Pommes Way, Silverdale.

According to an ambulance report, Sun had been working up high on the site and was not wearing a helmet or safety gear when he fell head first on a concrete floor and died a day later.

Between November last year and October 2019, there had been 55 investigations by WorkSafe into potential health and safety breaches in the construction industry - the highest by far among any other industries.

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Builder Bo Sun died in a workplace accident in Albany on a residential building site. Photo / Lincoln Tan
Builder Bo Sun died in a workplace accident in Albany on a residential building site. Photo / Lincoln Tan

Anna Yang, 29, a St John's volunteer and managing director of Futureway Connections Limited, last Saturday launched the health and safety programme aimed at educating and increasing health and safety awareness among Chinese builders.

"It is a serious concern, and the latest death is just one of many accidents and fatalities that occur on construction sites here every year," Yang said.

"Some Chinese construction workers are working without valid visas, others are being employed on a cash payment basis, and their safety are often being overlooked both by themselves and their employers."

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As in Sun's case, his widow found out only after his death that she could not prove her husband's earnings to get income support from the Accident Compensation Corporation because Inland Revenue had no record of his employer paying any taxes.

A visit to two West Auckland residential subdivisions by the Herald last weekend found nearly all the workers on scaffolding, some up to four stories high, were not wearing helmets or any safety gear.

At a residential construction site in Fred Taylor Drive, Westgate, Yang and about 10 other volunteers spoke to workers about safety, rules under the Health and Safety at Work Act, and also basic training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR.

Yang said the aim was to reach as many construction sites as possible.

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The Government announced in July that it was awarding $6.26 million to improve workplace safety, with $1.5 million over three years going to Construction Health and Safety NZ (Chasnz).

Businesses are required by law to manage health and safety risks arising from the work that they do. Photo / File.
Businesses are required by law to manage health and safety risks arising from the work that they do. Photo / File.

Chasnz is aiming to create a Construction Safety Index, which could be used to predict and generate better health and safety performance by understanding the true drivers of health and safety.

The grants were part of a $22 million injury incentive programme for businesses over the next five years.

A Worksafe spokeswoman said businesses are by law required to manage health and safety risks arising from the work that they do.

"Protection for working from a height can include scaffolding with edge protection, nets and harnesses and appropriate personal protective equipment," she said.

"Health and safety concerns at residential construction sites can be reported to Worksafe at any time on 0800 030040, concerns can be raised by anyone including St John's staff."