It was a scary day down there at the Barcoo Outlet.
It was just an everyday sort of job. And one of the fellows I was working with didn't come home that day. He got pinned up against the panel, and got squashed. It was very scary. He was only 24 years old.

I was 17.  I'm still here. I just work a bit safer.  

Kym's experience is not unique in Australia's construction industry.

Too many have seen mates seriously injured or killed on the job. Too many have attended the funerals of family or friends who have died from work-related illnesses, like asbestosis.

First-hand experience tells us how important safety is in our industry. CFMEU members frequently rank it their number one priority.

"It's a dangerous industry," says Tony.  "We're risking our lives every day to come to work to earn our money."

Partners and families of workers who have been killed also remind us why those deaths must never be in vain.

"Every day I think about him, every day I miss him," Trish Kelsh says of her husband Des. Widows like Trish and families of workers killed have become strong advocates for safety in construction, alongside the Union.

"We can't bring back our loved ones, but we certainly can fight to ensure all workers are able to come home at night,"  says the Workplace Tragedy Family Support Group. 

Safety is Union Business

Australian construction has become safer because workers have stood up for their right to work to live.

Overseas research confirms that workplaces with strong union membership are safer. It's logical. Workers who are prepared to have a go, who form Safety Committees and refuse to accept unsafe working conditions, improve the industry for everyone.  

"We can always do with more safety, " says Kym.*

The struggle against excessive hours, employers cutting costs and shoddy safety continues every day.

CFMEU Branches have a strong network of elected Safety Delegates who deal with day-to-day safety issues on sites. They are supported by Safety Organisers, who are always on hand with information and for incidents or problems.

CFMEU Construction National Office's designated Safety Officer, Lindsay Fraser, co-ordinates Safety Organisers' work and Union safety campaigns. Martin also works with employers and governments to develop better safety practices for our industry.

All CFMEU Training Centres run courses on different aspects of construction safety - from required induction-level safety tickets, up to (in the CFMEU Victoria Branch) a Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety.


*Kym's workmate, Malcolm Donne was killed at the Baulderstone Hornibrook Barcoo Outlet job in 2001. There is a memorial plaque to him at the Outlet.

Listen to Kym's story: