Concerns about the safety of the new wholesale market under construction at Epping have been taken to WorkSafe.
Vegetable Growers Association of Victoria president David Wallace said a meeting was held with WorkSafe officials last week to discuss standholders’ fears about building defects and unsafe pathways for forklifts and pedestrians.
Photographs of the Epping site, which was due to be handed over to the Melbourne Market Authority this month, show a roller door that does not close properly on a sloping concrete floor – leaving a drop of more than 30cm to be negotiated by forklifts – forklift aisles that are too narrow and pedestrian walkways that cross in front of doors to be used by forklifts.
Mr Wallace said WorkSafe had rejected a request to establish a designated work group on the grounds that potential tenants had not yet moved in and their staff could not be considered employees working at the site.
But he said WorkSafe staff had agreed to look at aisle widths, entries and exits and other issues of concern and raise them with the Victorian Government’s Melbourne Market Relocation Project team.
“We want to work out these issues,” he said. “We want to see a safe work environment and it’s (the Government’s) duty to provide that, not to say that it is and find out later that it’s not.
“To them it’s just a project, it’s not 500 businesses that they’re moving. It’s just a building (going) from Footscray Road to Epping.”
A spokesman for Minister for Major Projects David Hodgett said any building defects at Epping would have to be rectified by the building company before the handover to the Government.
“There is an issue with the area set aside for the fruit and vegetable stands at Epping,” the spokesman said.
“The current site at Footscray Road has a floor size of 14,000 square metres, yet the former Labor Government’s design for the new area at Epping has an area for the stands of 7000 square metres.
“The Victorian Government and the MMA are working through the options for the layout and have issued several discussion papers including a traffic and logistics management plan.”
The spokesman said the draft plan looked at options for the best use of the smaller trading floor and feedback was being considered.
The draft plan recommended the stands be increased by 36sq cm and forklift trading aisles be widened by 95cm.
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Conflicts between builder Grocon and Victoria’s most prominent construction union continue, with expensive billboard attack-advertisements being erected throughout Melbourne’s freeways. A spokesperson for Grocon described the give billboards as a fragment of a campaign meant to discredit or “distract from the union’s increasingly toxic brand”.
The billboards were erected at the Flemington section of CityLink, the Monash Freeway in Richmond and the West Gate Freeway in Port Melbourne.The ads are estimated to have cost approximately $20,000 monthly. As such, the ad is expected to remain in place until the end of the month.
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has also taken to running ads amidst the dispute with Grocon. The dispute was reportedly started following a disagreement over who was to appoint shop stewards and the right to display union paraphernalia at work sites.Police clashed with protesters at a Grocon Lonsdale Street Emporium site, when a picketline was formed last August. Grocon claimed in court that the picket line was a tool to intimidate its employees.
Bill Oliver, state secretary of the union’s building division, claims to have remaining concerns regarding the safety of workers on Grocon’s sites.
“Until workers are able to have proper safety representatives rather than employer-appointed stewards, the union will continue to have concerns,” he said.
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