Illegal Workers Flee Sydney Building Sites
New South Wales (NSW) Fair Trading, in collaboration with the Australian Border Force (ABF), has successfully concluded a highly organised, unannounced, one-day initiative aimed at addressing unlawful activities within residential construction projects. Several teams comprised of officers from both agencies conducted visits to 26 construction sites in North-West Sydney, as part of 'Operation Hammer.' These locations had been discreetly scouted in advance, spanning Schofields, Box Hill, Grantham Farm, and Kellyville Ridge.
The Proactive Investigations Team of Fair Trading carried out inspections to verify the licensure of contractors and their proper supervision of workers. It is a legal requirement that residential building work can only be contracted by appropriately licensed individuals who ensure the correct supervision. ABF officers collaborated with Fair Trading as part of an ongoing investigation into the employment of non-citizens engaging in unlawful practices within the NSW home building industry.
During the operation, Fair Trading engaged with 48 individuals and identified nine contractors operating without licenses. Each of these contractors received immediate fines of $2,200 for their infringements. Further investigations will commence to assess the suitability of the building companies associated with these unlicensed contractors for licensing.
This crackdown responds to concerns raised by industry stakeholders regarding a rise in unskilled labor within the NSW home building sector, which often lacks the necessary licenses or adequate supervision by accredited contractors. The utilisation of unlicensed and unsupervised contractors poses a risk to on-site safety, construction quality, and the potential for defective buildings.
Minister for Building Anoulack Chanthivong stated, "Operation Hammer serves as a warning to companies against the employment of unskilled and unlicensed contractors. There is a strong connection between builders disregarding immigration laws and a lack of quality in customer service. The tolerance for substandard construction and shortcuts in the interest of residents has diminished in NSW. While this action is stringent, it is necessary to curtail unlawful practices affecting the NSW building industry, ultimately safeguarding residents from subpar and potentially faulty homes."
Fair Trading Commissioner Natasha Mann added, "Our officers, with the support of Border Force, executed this operation with efficiency and professionalism. The nine unlicensed workers have been removed from NSW construction sites, and the companies that employed them will be subject to investigation. Fair Trading is raising the standards for building quality, and it is time for the industry to align with these expectations."
Fair Trading is actively working to rebuild public confidence in the NSW building industry, commencing with early intervention during the construction phase to identify and rectify risks and defects long before residents move in. It is essential to note that tradespersons must be licensed to contract residential building work exceeding $5,000 in value, covering both labor and materials, as well as specialist work like plumbing, electrical wiring, and air conditioning, irrespective of cost.
The stringent regulations in force, mandating that tradespeople must hold licenses for residential building projects exceeding a value of $5,000, underscore the critical need for adherence and effective management within building companies. In this context, Worx Safety Management Software emerges as an invaluable tool for PCBU's (Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking), facilitating the thorough vetting of their contractors by collecting copies of their licenses and insurances. Furthermore, it streamlines the process through QR code site check-in technology, providing real-time insights into the individuals present on-site at any given moment. Notably, the Worx Safety app empowers supervisors by granting them immediate access to their accounts should a situation arise with a suspicious worker on-site or when authorities require additional information.
To summarise, the recent operation and the complex challenges it aimed to address unequivocally highlight the indispensable nature of Worx Safety Management Software in enhancing our comprehension of the workforce at construction sites. This software transcends being merely advantageous; it is an essential tool for upholding safety, ensuring quality, and maintaining compliance with regulatory standards in the construction industry.