Huge win for workers as SafeWork SA launches new loo crackdown on toilet safety on construction sites

ETU and CEPU members have reached a huge milestone in the Nowhere to Go amenities campaign as Safework SA announced a new crackdown on the availability and adequacy of construction site toilets in the state.

SafeWork SA will aim to ensure construction sites have ‘clean and reasonably located loos’. They will work with unions including the CEPU to roll out the campaign. They will begin with an education campaign, moving to compliance checks later this year.

SafeWork authorities specifically referenced the ETU’s Nowhere to Go report, launched in 2021. The report exposed unsanitary, unsafe, inaccessible and unsuitable amenities faced by many workers in the electrical trades. It also explains how this issue is disproportionately impacting women.

SafeWork SA Acting Executive Director Glenn Farrell believes the crackdown will be a good indicator of safety and work standards across the board. Sites that fail to provide basic amenities likely to point to other safety issues on site.

Communication lines finally open

CEPU SA Organiser Erin Hennessey was a key driver behind the campaign milestone, meeting with State Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector Kyam Maher and Minister for Women Katrine Hildyard to ask for action on this issue.

“I’ve noticed such a stark difference to when the Liberals were in power compared to the current Labor Government. The communication lines are finally open. They’re willing to listen to workers and their representatives about issues that affect them,” said Erin.

Erin recommended changes to both the model WHS Regulations ad Codes of Practice to address the differences in amenities use and access needs for both men and women in the workplace.

She also recommended that regulators update their checklists on safe amenities as well as develop a targeted campaign to address improvements in workplace amenities in consultation with Women in Male Dominated Occupations & Industries (WIMDOI)

“ETU and CEPU women nationally worked on this amenities checklist together, including at the National Women’s Conference. Every one of those women has played a part in this win,” said Erin.

Kyam Maher then met with SafeWork SA and expressed the government’s strong support for action on improved access to amenities in SA. He has asked them to put it on the agenda at SafeWork Australia so a national approach can be considered. Kyam asked them to consult with the CEPU to review the guidance material in SA so that it adequately reflects the work health and safety needs of women and men in the construction industry.

“It’s good to see SafeWork finally taking this issue seriously, and a government willing to do something about it,” said Erin.

CEPU SA State Secretary, John Adley welcomed SafeWork’s announcement, but said he wanted guidance “backed up with compliance and enforcement action”.

“We must ensure adequate facilities are provided so that women are not made to feel that they don’t belong in predominantly male workplaces,” he said.

“The outdated attitudes of some construction industry employers regarding provision of amenities in blue collar workplaces needs to change.”

This result is thanks to the hard work of all ETU and CEPU members who have advocated as part of the Nowhere to Go campaign. Though we still have a way to go before this is no longer an issue in Australia, this milestone shows that we’re making decent ground. Our campaign is getting results.


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This article was publised on 30 March 2023.