Insulation rush puts lives on line

EVERY day hundreds of tradesmen in Central Queensland are putting their lives at risk installing roof insulation, union organiser Craig Giddins said yesterday.

The Electrical Trades Union CQ organiser said the Federal Government was putting lives on the line with its insulation rebate.

A spokesman for Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett yesterday said the investigation into the death of teenager Reuben Barnes would be treated with urgency.

The spokesman said anyone who didn’t have the qualifications to install insulation had to be working with someone who did.

To be qualified to install insulation people must be deemed trade and insulation competent or have prior experience.

And from December 1, new guidelines mean ceiling insulation must not be installed until a formal “risk assessment” has been done.

Mr Giddins said it was “too easy” for people to be endorsed by the scheme and that hundreds of new installers “popped up overnight” in the region to cash in on the government’s rebate program when it was introduced a few months ago.

“On a daily basis there are hundreds of people being put at risk through not having the correct safety procedures implemented,” Mr Giddins said.

“The companies that are doing the installations should be accredited to show their employees have done (appropriate) training.

The ministerial spokesman said Mr Garrett “will not hesitate to make further changes” to compulsory training for insulation installers “to address any additional safety concerns”.

“The government will consider recommendations put forward as a matter of urgency and as Mr Garrett has said consistently, the government will not hesitate to further boost training requirements, safety standards and compliance measures under (the government rebate program) if that is required,” he said.

Mr Giddins said the new guidelines were not enough and the government needed to put a halt on all work before another person was killed.

He said he knew of at least another dozen people who had suffered electric shocks while installing ceiling insulation recently.

And it was all fuelled by the fact there was no obligation for people installing the insulation to turn off power to the house, Mr Giddins said.

“I can guarantee that they’re running around doing so many houses in a day to maximise their profits, they jump up the manhole and away they go without doing proper checks.”

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