Blue Mountains council rejects independent workplace health and safety audit

A proposal to boost Blue Mountains Council’s safety management systems to the “gold standard” with ongoing independent auditing, has been rejected at the recent council meeting.

Greens Ward 1 Councillor Kerry Brown requested council develop a comprehensive Work Health and Safety Management Plan, including a risk register of all hazards, risk assessments and control measures across its properties and undertakings.

The Greens councillor’s notice of motion was defeated on November 14 in favour of an amendment from Labor Cr Don McGregor that council receives a report on asbestos risks and recommendations by the investigator into recent allegations.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said "Cr McGregor's motion seeks to receive advice from qualified experts at the completion of the independent investigation before we consider ways to strengthen council’s approach to workplace health and safety.

“In my view, this is the most appropriate way forward. It makes sense to wait and see what the independent experts say before proceeding with any other review of workplace health and safety systems”.

At the council meeting, Cr Brown had also suggested council seek safety accreditation under Australian Standards 4801 or its successor.

“It provides the gold standard for rigorous, ongoing, independent auditing, reporting and corrective actions to ensure that safety is maintained at the highest level.

“We don’t need to wait for the completion of the investigations into alleged past failures about asbestos to decide we are going to step up our safety across the board,” she said.

Cr Brown said many of council’s properties were old and did not meet current building standards.

“They present a range of risks to staff, contractors, tenants, volunteers and the community such as asbestos, old electrical wiring, confined spaces, falls from height, trip hazards.

“This would be a positive and proactive way forward.  I think it would help build worker and public confidence in council safety systems.”

Cr Brown said she was disappointed council was not willing to be more proactive and would "continue to push for us to step up and go for gold on safety".

Cr McGregor told the Gazette: “The council resolved on a perfectly reasonable and appropriate course of action following the establishment of the independent inquiry. I can’t see why anyone would vote against that course of action.”

Unsatisfied with the response, Cr Brown is bringing the matter back to council next month.