Work health and safety (WHS) is a key component of NBN’s (formerly NBN Co’s) new NBN jobs contracting model with the Australian construction industry.

The performance-based contracts aim to increase significantly the quality and speed of the rollout to homes and businesses in the fixed-line “footprint” that will make up the vast majority of connections to the NBN network.

The terms, which include adherence to safe work practice, represent a marked departure from the old commercial model which guaranteed large volumes of work to suppliers in specified states and regions regardless of performance but also placed upon them a high administrative burden and no competition for that work.

Instead, the new contracts offer flexible volume commitments, competition between delivery partners, and pricing based on outcomes rather than inputs.

AlertForce plays a part
AlertForce is playing its part in nbn’s heightened focus on WHS by providing mandatory online WHS induction training to NBN employees. AlertForce is the sole provider of online WHS training to NBN.

NBN CEO Bill Morrow said the performance of construction partners, the quality of their work and their adherence to safe work practices would determine how much additional work they will receive.

“We have worked closely with the industry to reduce the complexity of our contracts to make them easier to administer and to reward good work as we gear up to accelerate the rollout.”
The first of the new contracts were signed in June 2015 with construction partners Downer, Transfield, Visionstream, Fulton Hogan and WBHO.

Together the new contracts will cover around 4 million homes and businesses that are scheduled to be connected with fibre to the node, fibre to the building or fibre to the premises. Contracts with additional suppliers are also being negotiated and nearing conclusion.

NBN has a goal of ensuring that all homes, businesses and communities across Australia can access high speed broadband by 2020, including 8 million premises connected to the NBN network.

Strong focus on training
The new contracts come at the same time as NBN announces a significant recruitment and training drive to support the accelerated connection of homes to the NBN network by 2020.

The current construction workforce is expected to double to 9,000, with NBN committing nearly $40 million for training and awareness campaigns to help attract an extra 4,500 workers into the industry.

“To bring high speed broadband to Australians faster, our delivery partners will need a bigger pool of trained, skilled workers,” NBN CEO Bill Morrow said. “Flexible career options will be explored by construction partners to attract late-stage career workers looking to balance their hours with lifestyle and family.

Roles in coaching and training for new industry entrants will harness their experience and provide valuable expertise to younger workers setting out in the industry.NBN also aims to attract school leavers and workers rolling off other construction jobs, building a range of training and re-skilling programs with tailored career paths.

Workforce to double
The intention is to expand the industry’s workforce to meet construction and activation requirements. Long-term opportunities will also be created as the network moves into ongoing operations and maintenance.
“To those with telco experience, there are options to use your skills or become a teacher and coach for the next generation of workers,” Mr Morrow said.

“To those thinking about what course or career to pursue, our partners are developing options that will include training and real job opportunities on the NBN network over the long term.”

The occupations needed to meet nbn’s requirements include telco copper cable jointers, telco linesworkers, cablers, telco technicians and electrical linesworkers.
NBN is signing agreements with a number of training organisations, comprising TAFEs and registered training organisations, with providers in every major rollout region across the country. Further, a national NBN skills register will also be established to help record worker accreditations across the network.

“Both the rapid roll out plan and the multi-technology mix means we need more people in our united partnership to connect eight million happy homes by 2020,” Mr Morrow said.

“Together we aim to bring high speed broadband to Australians to bridge the digital divide and create new opportunities for business, health, education and entertainment.”

Satellite launch
NBN’s first satellite, meantime, is expected to launch from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana soon, followed by the expected commercial availability of its wholesale Long Term Satellite Service (LTSS) in 2016.
The LTSS will deliver wholesale broadband speeds of up to 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload.

More than one million premises can now order fast broadband services via the NBN network – about one in 10 homes. Nearly half a million homes are already connected and enjoying the benefits.

Mr Morrow said the fast broadband delivered via the NBN network can provide a range of benefits for Australians such as opportunities to work from home, access to online education tools and options for on-demand entertainment.

For more information on AlertForce’s Mandatory NBN Safety and Awareness Course/Training, go to http://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/nationally-recognised-nbn-safety-awareness-course/

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