BLF - OHS - CHAPTER SIX: OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH
and construction have been terrible for the damage that their operations
have wrecked on life, limb and longevity. Stonemasons died of silicosis,
many before they turned forty; their fate had shadowing their clamour for
an Eight-Hour day from the 1840s. Plasterers also had their lungs dusted.
Painters were poisoned with lead. By working outdoors in all weathers,
labourers suffered pleurisy and pneumonia, rheumatics and arthritis. Cuts
turned septic. Before antibiotics, puncture wounds could prove fatal, as
happened to a worker on the Harbour Bridge who died of tetanus after
crushing his thumb. Profit-takers concealed the hazards. When the harm
could no longer be hidden, the employers muddied the nature and extent of
the problem. James Hardie’s behaviour over asbestos reproduced the spin
perfected by the tobacco corporates. For every labourer killed on site,
many more die from work-related diseases, on which Australia collects no
data beyond compensation statistics, which “seriously underestimate”
the “true extent” of non-traumatic harms.
forces pushed the rates of illness and injury above those to be expected
from bad luck. The prime driver was the profit motive expressed through
speed-ups and cost-cutting. Connected to that imperative for capital has
been the failure of authorities to enforce even their inadequate
regulations. Thirdly, union officials, notably in the AWU, but at times
also in the ABLF, turned a lazy eye to hazards. Finally, the labourers had
to teach each other why fast workers die young.
of illness and injury needed more than professionals. Regulations about
equipment, protective gear, repetitive strains and clean air have to be
enforced. The right of union officials to enter sites without notice was
crucial when government inspectors were phoning the boss to say they will
be around tomorrow for a whiskey. Organisers and job reps put as much
faith in their manipulation of the “Bluff Act” as in municipal
regulations. The key became rank-and-file control over when it was safe to
work. Labourers improved their health and safety from the 1960s as the BLF
revived into a fighting union.
churn of the labour force and the sprawl of sub-contracting made it harder
to connect damage, treatment and compensation to a specific site, a single
employer or one work practice. Labourers, therefore, dealt with harms on
an industry-wide basis. When ABLF General Secretary Gallagher looked back
on 30 years of the Federation’s successes in campaigning for safety, he
identified three factors: “united action and education of workers on a
job-by-job basis, pressuring individual employers, and by introducing
health and safety as a bargaining tool during wage negotiations.”
Employers denounced the making of safety into an industrial issue because
they knew that union activism would impose more penalties for negligence
than regulators ever would attempt.
money-spinners in the building industry attacked the costs of improving
conditions, not the risks. In March 1987, the recently retired
General-Manager of the Darling Harbour Authority
told a dinner of Construction Contractors that tougher OHS laws were
hindering developers and should be repealed. Eight months later, eleven
building workers were injured in a single incident at Darling Harbour.
Similarly, the blueprint for industrial relations that the Building Owners
& Managers Association (BOMA) proposed that year was thoughtful on
every issue except health and safety. Existing legislation and codes, BOMA
concluded, were “adequate”, and penalties “sufficient”. The
only reform that the Association wanted was to stop the unions’ using
OHS as a tactic to “force concessions” on other matters. Elsewhere,
the document stressed the incompetence of foremen and supervisors as a
source of industrial disputes. BOMA did not extend this recognition of
management failures to the frequency of conflicts around OHS.
chapter touches on nine aspects of health and safety. It begins by noting
the low level of research before surveying silicosis, asbestosis, poisons,
dermatitis, hearing loss and skeletal damage. The discussion then shifts
to inclement weather and the dilemma of dirt money before ending with
recent resistance by employers to safety regulations.
Technical Education Branch in NSW was almost alone in offering courses in
Industrial Hygiene. Several studies of mining reported on lead poisoning
and “black lung” but did little to improve conditions underground.
Committees of inquiry were devices for delay.
the Commonwealth set up a Department of Health in 1921, it included a
Division on Industrial Hygiene. Smaller agencies produced statistics and
advice, for instance, the Industrial Commission in Queensland investigated
the hazards to cement workers in 1926,
while Standards Australia reported on equipment and materials.
Yet, comprehensive and uniform statistics remained as partial as the
enforcement of regulations. The anti-labour Federal government disbanded
the Industrial Hygiene Division as a cost-cutting measure early in the
1930s. After the Pacific war, Federal Labor added an Occupational Health
Section to the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney. State
Departments of Labour employed a few scientists whose findings are sampled
below. OHS practitioners set up a professional Society in 1969 but
remained a backwater within Public Health, itself a minor part of the
medical establishment. After 12 years of trying to lift the profile of OHS,
the retiring President the OHS Society told the Federal Minister for
Health in 1981 that the attitude of the Coalition government had left him
“at best, saddened and, at worst, cynical.”
the 1960s, a small but growing number of doctors broke from the
fee-for-service model to offer preventive and community medicine.
Melbourne medicos with a commitment to social equality joined with meat
workers to establish a clinic and research centre in Footscray, with an
early project on industrial noise.
Whitlam scuttled proposals to place such centres at the heart of Labor’s
overhaul of the health system, championing the commodity model against the
community approach. In 1973, the radicals joined the Doctors Reform
Society to support a national health service; from 1977, their magazine, New Doctor, gave space to OHS claims which did not suit the
professional journal with its quest for academic status.
Centres’ other major effort went into retaining the funds they needed to
expose hazards and support victims. The Centres had backing from militant
unions and trickles of cash from government agencies. Thus, the managers
were forever struggling to meet running expenses, and never secured the
longer-term finance needed to plan their services to match the need.
The little money that Lidcombe got from WorkSafe came on condition that
its educational activities be subject to the right-wing Labor Council so
that Lidcombe was starved of funds to protect the hobbling of workplace
activism under the Accord. Control of health and safety slipped from
rank-and-filers to a Federal Commission.
flowed into academic research following the creation of WorkSafe and
WorkCover in the mid-1980s. The experts got their own publication in 1978,
later called the Journal of Occupational Health and Safety, Australia and New Zealand.
Its scholarly credentials made it a source of information not advocacy, in
contrast to the Workers’ Health Centre’s agitational Work Hazards (1977-88). After 1996, research fell victim to the
Coalition’s union-bashing, under which the National Institute of OHS
deteriorated into turf wars over funding.
By then, building workers had more information on the number and nature of
deaths and injuries, data which Sydney rock-choppers had known from
experience in the 1900s.
contractor acknowledged in 1908 that within two years, strapping navies
“pine away to almost nothing”. Because the Public Works Department (PWD)
in New South Wales put cost-saving above saving lives, contractors won
jobs by driving their labourers to work longer hours in the dust. Another
employer remarked: “A contractor does not take a job to slaughter men;
but at the same time he has to make a living.”
The difficulties that labourers faced in making their living explained why
some accepted the wages of death. With labourers paid for a full week,
their annual earnings were about a fifth below those for a man in
consistent work. By contrast, rock-chopping on PWD jobs guaranteed a full
week’s pay every week of the year – for as short a time as a navvy
survived. More rock-choppers would have worked on building sites had they
lived long enough.
rock-choppers formed unions to fight for their lives, breaking away from
the United Labourers Protective Society in 1908. In October, they took
advantage of a shortage of labour to stop work in support of a six-hour
day. In defiance of the Industrial Disputes Act, which made strikes
illegal, four leaders went to prison, thereby strengthening the resolve of
the members and attracting support from other unions. The Industrial
Court, the Press and the Premier spurred the contractors on to lock out
the workforce. The Sydney Morning
Herald saw that the workers were “face to face with the state.”
The men refused to return until all their demands had been met and their
leaders released. They won that round.
The battle continued for reduced exposure. Twenty years later, the United
Labourers’ Protective Society withdrew its claim for a 35-hour week for
trench-diggers in exchange for higher wages and the supply of masks and
goggles by employer. In 1939, the ABLF’s Federal Award claimed a
15-minute break every two hours for rockchoppers.
ration of sand
brings fatal dust pollution”, headlined Sydney’s Daily
Telegraph in 1972.
After a revival of city building had led to a new epidemic of silicosis.
At the Hotel Metropole site early in 1971, labourers were excavating to a
depth of nearly 4 metres for 48-60 hours a week in double shifts. Under
one skyscraper in the Sydney CBD, the level was up to 6,000, instead of
200, while the particles per cubic centremeter in the King’s Cross
tunnel were 90 times the ILO standard.The
Minister announced in August 1972 that “control of dust arising from
excavation work generally had been under consideration for some time
In truth, it had been “under consideration” for seventy years.
Instead, the government suggested that any bad case should be reported to
the inspectors. The unions used the public’s inconvenience from the dust
to win protection for on-site workers.
the government set up a Standing Technical Committee on Dust Control, the
AWU delegate never came. After continuing poor attendance, the meetings
became quarterly. At the third meeting, the ABLF representative reported
that his members had embarked on a six-month campaign to eliminate the
killer. From 1 May 1973, unsafe jobs were to be stopped for 24 hours. 
This action forced amendments to workplace laws so that after 1 December
1973 contractors were not allowed to let dust particles escape, though the
threat has returned.
Scientific Officer at the Health Commission, Dr Eva Francis, reported in
1973 that it was “almost an academic exercise to take a dust test in
Sydney sandstone.” She feared that “the numbers in this State with
silicosis can only be expected to grow to epidemic proportions.”
In one case, a man aged 44 years had operated a jackhammer for
seven years, mainly in pier holes. During the previous two years, he had
complained of breathlessness at any exertion; his lung-functions were down
to 50 per cent of normal. The Compensation Board awarded him a 100 per
cent pension. Dr Francis identified three behaviours compounding the
menace in the city excavations:
dust could be eliminated with a $10 water spray, a device developed by
workers at the Water Supply and Sewerage Board and made available free to
other employers. Nonetheless, water sprays were not fitted on the
excavations for the Eastern suburbs railways until 1971. Francis pointed
solution to the jack-pick problem is a simple, inexpensive coil attachment
and a water flow. The Union appears to be the only hope for these men.
Only in the last 3 months, since they have insisted upon it, has water
the pleas of the rockchoppers from 70 years before, she concluded:
was concentrated in segments of Sydney and could be contained with simple
equipment. Employers were profiting from another dust which had been
killing workers throughout the century and across the planet.
Victorian Health officials examined 300 asbestos workers in 1952, one in
three had fibres in their sputum, and half of those had positive X-ray
findings. Five years later, the researcher reported the results in the Medical
Journal of Australia:
defended his findings on the grounds that he preferred not to wait until
his patients were dying before confirming their symptoms. He encouraged
men to quit the industry, advice which more of them were heeding:
of those who stayed were wearing masks, although the occasional dill
pushed his coat into an exhaust apparatus because he “didn’t like the
draught”. While the Health Department officier waited for the government
to gazette stringent regulations, he stressed that workers had to protect
1967, New South Wales added asbestosis to the conditions covered by its
Compensation Act. Late next year, newspaper reports of a US survey sparked
the ACTU to call for an investigation into the dangers of working with
asbestos products. In Queensland, rank-and-file labourers took up the
concern as the Building Trades Group promoted awareness of the mass
murderer in their midst. In 1970, a second US study revealed alarming
death rates. When that investigation had started in 1943 with 632 workers,
the researchers had expected 251 deaths from all causes by 1967. Instead,
349 had died. Mortality was almost 100 more than the prediction.
Queensland building unions put out an “ASBESTOS KILLS” leaflet.
Queensland set limits on emissions in 1971, followed in other States by
1979. The supposition was that workers could swallow a few fibres without
risk proved dangerous since there was no safe level.
The cover of the first issue the Lidcombe’s Workers Health Centre’s newsletter, Work Hazards, in October 1977, headlined “The Great Asbestos Conspiracy”. Its perpetrators were the businesses that pervaded the building sector as thoroughly as asbestos did the lungs of its victims. Master Builders and developers accepted assurances from the manufacturers because they shared in the advantages from using asbestos products. Builders adopted the cheapest and hence most deadly methods of working the material. The cover-up was typical of the ways in which capitalists and their state approach workplace safety. The employers began by denying a problem, while their governments did nothing. Under union pressure, the politicians got around to adopting a few rules but did little to enforce them. Throughout, the profit-takers lied – and not just Hardie or the mining companies. Building corporations, such as Hollands, were on the front-line by making unprotected labourers work with asbestos/cement sheeting into the 1980s. The 1978 ABLF Award included a provision to protect labourers working with or near asbestos, but was limited to the safeguards in force in each State and did not insist on a breathing apparatus. The Federation was about to write its own standards.
recalled that he had become aware of the threat from asbestos in 1975
after seeing a US video. His first encounter in Canberra came in 1977-78
at Chisholm High School which was constructed almost entirely out of
asbestos cement sheeting. The union raised the problem, “in a fairly
general way” for construction workers, but “we didn’t really know
what it meant for school children.” Even this mild concern provoked a
reaction from the serial killers selling a product which they knew to be
building and educational authorities had the resources to find out why
asbestos sheeting should never have been used. Instead, they put the
labourers, teachers and students at risk.
ACT Branch learnt as it went along. Unlike the government, it became a
quick study about asbestos. O’Dea became alarmed in 1978 when workers on
the Police Academy were told to use angle grinders to make the sheeting
fit the eaves. They “were as white as Father Christmas.” Blue asbestos
was removed from Canberra’s ABC studios in 1979. The experts assured the
labourers that cartridge respirators and laundering their overalls was
enough protection if the asbestos were hosed down. By 1983, O’Dea
with testimony from the Workers’ Health Centre in Lidcombe, the ABLF
found it hard to convince government officials. The National Library
covered up the hazards because the costs of removal would run into the
millions. The media abused the union for refusing to compromise with
“the purveyors of powdered death.” The BLs were not for turning:
could not praise the Lidcombe Workers Health Centre too highly:
Labourers had learnt that half-measures had no place when dealing with asbestos. Their union insisted that all cutting and drilling of asbestos-cement be done in the factory. When John Holland built a sport stadium in Canberra, the Branch made the firm send sheets back to Sydney. Victory seemed complete. The company paid for the Lidcombe Workers’ Health Centre to test each labourer. All cutting and drilling would be in controlled environments. Other builders accepted the new rules. Indeed, the Parliament House Authority “agreed to have no sheeting on the job at all.” At the time, newspaper editors abused the Branch as extremists. The employers used the union’s hard line on asbestos as one more ground for de-registration.
killers – all of you”
Federation called for nation-wide legislation to make the SA Branch
practice the national standard. Next year, renovations at the Royal
Melbourne Institute of Technology exposed the failure of employers to
follow even such rules as existed. A stoppage over amenities revealed
asbestos sheathing on the pipes, confirmed by the Workers’ Health Centre.
The contractor had breached his obligation to give 30 days prior
notification of any work in areas with asbestos. Equally disturbing was
the decision from the Building Industry Disputes Board, which referred to
working with asbestos as “a contentious issue”, as if there were some
doubt about its deadliness. The Board then revealed why only action on the
jobs backed by militant officials could save lives:
was not a word about enforcement, still less about penalties, just a wink
and a nudge to the employers’ body to pass on information. By contrast,
the Victorian Branch had put asbestos up front by designating one of its
organisers as its Asbestos and Safety Officer.
When the MBAV got around to holding a seminar on asbestos in May 1986,
the technical expert who spoke did the usual trick of sowing confusion. He
argued that the existing measurements were not always appropriate or
distinction was clear-cut: there was no safe level. The difficulty was in
protecting the labourers who had to remove asbestos because best practice
ate into profits. Faced with the greed of the employers and the
gutlessness of the regulators, the ABLF backed the total ban that the
building unions had placed on working with asbestos. The Federation’s
stand could not have been clearer: “DO NOT WORK WITH ASBESTOS”, and it
circulated the warning in six languages, for example, Asbesto
La Fibra Mortal. When labourers enforced that rule on unionised sites,
the NSW Royal Commissioner in 1992 accused them of “salting” sites –
as if there were buildings free of the stuff.
through speed-ups kept the danger ever-present.
For instance, roof repairs after the 1999 Sydney hailstorm were a flash
point. Such jobs were supposed not to start without notices confirming
that all asbestos had been removed, though several builders bought bogus
The spread of “self-employed” operators on renovations renewed the
Gideon Haigh’s 2006 account of James Hardie as serial killer – Asbestos House - attacked some union officials as “accomplices”. That allegation nailed the AWU for its addiction to sidling up to employers to win coverage. Haigh failed to notice any of the efforts of the building unions sampled above. The ignorance of a flannelled fool is more forgivable than is his beating up on a young official from a regional Labour Council who was put off the track by a health expert. That organiser had few resources and faced hostile authorities. The source of irresponsibility is beyond dispute. Some 35 years after building unions took a stand against the asbestos plague, the Federal government banned the import of chrysolite asbestos from 2003. Worse still, the 2005 Building and Construction Industry and Improvement Act criminalised union efforts to eradicate asbestos and other killers.
labourers did carry breathing difficulties over from other periods in
their working lives, such as mining. Working out of doors increased the
levels of pleurisy and pneumonia which scarred the lungs, constricting
their functions. The incidence of lung problems was compounded by the
almost universal addiction to nicotine, expressed by the term “smoko”
for the mid-morning break.
the 1940s, TB caused more deaths among young adults and the middle-aged
than any other condition. The belief that it was hereditary imposed a
stigma on its sufferers whereas the condition was contagious, with its
clusters in working-class families being one more penalty from
over-crowded housing. Although scientists had developed some medicines, a
complete cure needed total rest for six months. No labourer could afford
that treatment. Indeed, a sufferer lost most of his invalid pension once
he went into hospital, leaving his dependents destitute. In 1937, the
National Health and Medical Research Council had resolved: “The economic
factor is definitely the most important aspect of the campaign against
tuberculosis.” A special pension at a third higher than the basic wage
took effect from 1950, slashing the rate of infection to almost zero.
encountered all manner of toxins. Some were in the building materials.
Some had polluted the soils from previous industries. Other poisons were
being produced on the sites under repair. In rare cases, a skin infection
could cause death as happened to Fred Stanbury in August 1962 after being
issued with unsterilised gum-boots which provoked a rash ending in kidney
Sulphide Corporation, Cockle Creek, gave more than enough grounds in early
1960 to have its site closed as a health hazard. Organisers documented
sulphur fumes, acid fumes, sulphur and pyrites dust, super-phosphate dusts
and a white substance on the ground, suspected of having an acid content.
At a Compulsory Conference, the Industrial Commissioner admitted that,
during his inspection, he had been “conscious of fumes somewhat briefly
irritating to the throat, but after a short time such fumes no longer
caused any irritation, nor did I have any after effects therefrom.” His
comment was typical of lawyers who dropped in. He had been on site for a
few hours whereas the labourers endured constant exposure in excavations
to a depth of 8 metres.
From Gladstone in 1967, one organiser reported on “the worst site that
he has organised.” Soda from the plant spread over a big area. He
advised the Executive that “if officials were to organise on the site
that they should receive the disability allowance.”
poisons were so potent that extraordinary precautions were in force around
the Opera House. The “Glue Crew” wore rubber gloves and special
clothing; they had to avoid the solvent fumes and dust on their skin;
immediately after using the resin, they had to wash their hands in
separate bathrooms with throw-away soap before drying themselves with
disposable towels. These arrangements could not protect the rest of the
workforce. Epoxy came off gloves onto the rungs of ladders and thus onto
the hands of an unsuspecting climber.
Tins and stirring sticks were left lying around. Safety depended on
workers looking out for each other. Twenty years later, the MBA’s NSW
journal had no embarrassment in printing a photograph of a lad applying
epoxy concrete with no protection.
1978 Award listed Special Rates for any work involving acids or epoxy
substances. In addition to paying an extra 33 cents an hour, the employers
had to conform to local regulations, supply protective gear and inform
workers of the risks and safety regulations. In the early 1990s, a survey
of the use of epoxy coatings found that neither supervisors nor operatives
understood the hazards. Workers on only two out of the nine construction
sites under investigating knew about the Materials Safety Data Sheets.
Gloves were supplied on only one out of the nine workplaces, and were
usually of an inappropriate material, leather or cotton, rather than
A much larger investigation during the 1990s indicated that failure to meet standards was widespread. Fewer than a third of the companies invited to participate agreed to do so. The researcher concluded that employers knew that involving their workers “in the study would cause problems, that is, increase the awareness of occupational skin diseases and perhaps contribute to more compensation claims and costly skin protection.” Ignorance was bliss for profit-takers. They had never been short of anecdotal evidence, and so hid behind the lack of funding for research to maintain their “not proven” defence. Once that protection dissolved along with the gloves, the employers shifted responsibility to individual workers instead of removing the problem at its source.
that cement caused dermatitis came in the 1950s. Before then, the
assumption had been that rashes came from the alkalinity and the
abrasiveness of wet cement. In fact, those constituents opened the skin to
Potassium Dichromate which gloves could not keep off bricklayers,
labourers, plasterers and tilers. The infection might take years to
develop. Once established, it was long lasting, the prognosis poor and the
The harm could be prevented by adding a pinch of ferrous sulphate, which
put up the price by 1.5%.
protective gear and on-site showers reduced cement rashes, as late as the
1940s, the Queensland Branch had to make employers supply concrete workers
The use of barrier creams was a challenge to manliness, so the builders in
A Weird Mob rubbed mutton fat
into their hands and boots to keep both soft.
After 1960, concern about cement dust increased as concrete went into more structures, and chemical agents were added to concrete to hasten its curing, before buffering gave off dust. Experts assert that the additives are not toxic. Yet the MBA warned against their use because of the chlorine content. With chemicals linked to 28% of workplace-related deaths in building and construction, labourers worry which compound will be the asbestos of tomorrow.
health or safety for money is wrong in principle. In financial terms, a
disabilities allowance is a bad bargain. Extra wages for a few months
cannot outweigh the years of incapacity and early death that result from
poisons. How many dollars extra a week could pay for asbestosis or
Making penalty rates retrospective steered a course around allowing employers either to clean up or to provide a disability allowance. An example of this balancing act came in the deal that the NSW Branch reached with Monier-Bechey in May 1972. The company agreed to pay dirt money for every hour worked. In addition, labourers got extra to make up for the lack of amenities since they had started. An even better combination of safety and penalties came in the 1978 Federal Award in regard to handling asbestos products. The clause mandated the wearing of combination overalls and breathing equipment. The labourers received 33 cents more per hour for the inconvenience of that apparatus, not in exchange for the hazard.
work could cause deafness had been documented in 1881 among German railway
workers by a researcher who stressed that hearing loss increased the
likelihood of other injuries.
Even partial deafness added to the dangers faced by builders’ labourers.
Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus) disturbed sleep and induced
vertigo; both those conditions worsened the hazards on site. One early
sign of trouble is a confusion of sounds; this blur can make the sufferer
Authorities accepted that workers suffered loss of hearing if an explosion burst their ear drums more readily than that persistent exposure to moderate levels of sound also produced significant damage. Constant low frequency noise is as damaging as occasional shrillness. Harm came not just from jackhammers but even from manual typewriters in the ABLF offices. Building workers wrongly assumed that, because they were working in the open, they were less at risk than vehicle builders. Because the damage rarely occurred while a victim was working with a single employer, builders’ labourers confronted problems in claiming compensation. Moreover, deafness went unreported because there was no cure or remedy and hearing aids were as expensive as they were ineffective.
Protection? Employers hoped to meet their duty of care by issuing personnel protectors. The earliest ones had been home-made out of cotton wadding, a practice common in the trenches of the First World War. From the 1970s, commercial plugs and muffs reduced the damage but left labourers less able to pick up warning signals. As building sites became nosier, dogmen replaced their whistles with tugs on a rope, and were later issued with radio helmets. From early 1973, the NSW Branch insisted that jack-picks be equipped with mufflers. Because noise at work often created a public nuisance, the ABLF again used community inconvenience to win support for reducing decibels at their source.
protested that protectors should be “the last form of action in a
hierarchy of control measures.”
Instead, the objective had to be to eliminate excessive noise. Individual
protectors repositioned the problems they were supposed to solve. Further
weaknesses from relying on individual protectors are that labourers are
certain to remove their muffs to hear what is being said, or to wipe away
sweat; moreover, ear-muffs had to fit inside helmets which made the
clamping of the muffs less secure.
chief inspector for NSW confessed in 1986 that his powers of enforcement
were irrelevant: “If I spent all my time in court, or preparing for it,
there’d be no time for inspections.” Anyway, the maximum fine was only
$2,000. The regulators relied on persuasion, warning employers that
compliance was cheaper than higher insurance premiums,
with a judgement for $100,000 leading to their trebling. The rate of
compliance was lowest for businesses with fewer than five employees, which
was common among building trades. The inspectors acknowledged the
advantages to the workers from their looking out for each other:
“there’s a lot of self-education going on the shop floor – a lot of
health and safety committees have turned their attention to the problems
and stung management into action.”
After the damage had been done, workers relied on compensation. During 1988, 10,000 NSW workers got $35m. for hearing loss, with construction workers the second largest group of claimants. In 1992-93, 11% of all injury-diseases cases in the sector were for industrial deafness. Compensation lawyer and leading Communist, E. F. Hill, contrasted the damage inflicted on building workers with the power that had been available to a High Court judge when a jackhammer disturbed his proceedings in Melbourne. Mr Justice Kitto threatened the foreman with contempt. When that move failed, His Honour adjourned the case to Sydney: “But what about the jackhammer operator and his workmates? They had not the luxury of contempt and injunctions. They were compelled to work in order to eat.” 
specialists took an interest in this condition because its treatment was
complicated and expensive, which was not the case with minor trauma. In
seeking treatment at casualty departments, workers suffered a second time
because the doctors had not been trained to consider those assaults
seriously. In 1962, a labourer got thirteen stitches from a doctor at
Brisbane General Hospital who refused to give him a certificate and sent
him back to work; the union found him a GP to provide the certificate and
reported the first doctor to the BTG.
A Brisbane survey recognised that such behaviour involved more than
individual prejudice: “Students tend to disregard as boring and
unimportant those facets of a course which receive little attention from
the important members of the teaching hierarchy”, few of whom dealt with
medical bias affected that third of building workers who were injured each
year in the 1960s, so that most labourers left the industry with damage to
bone and sinew. From mid-1975 to mid-1977, one in twenty NSW labourers
aged between 18 and 35 had needed time off after lower-back damage.
Lifting and carrying, jerking a load off the ground or twisting under its
weight caused hernias and slipped discs. The rule of bending one’s knees
to lift came late and took time to instill. With annual turnover rates of
150% among labourers, training campaigns could never slacken. A survey of
construction workers in the early 1990s found that 70% of their injuries
were fractures and sprains.
Between 2000 and 2004, wrist and hand injuries were the principal reasons
for hospital treatment.
So, it was not surprising that a Wollongong rigger told a friend:
“It’s nearly over for me, and I wish to Christ it was. The arthritis
is really bad, my knees swell up and legs ache and I’m losing confidence
on heights. I have to get out.”
He was 36. Had he been a general labourer, it is unlikely that he would
have lasted so long. Only one labourer out of 50 stayed in the industry
for more than 20 years. Two reasons for the low rate of retention were
jolts to the lower-back and vibration throughout the limbs.
Out of 10,000 workers in the heavy construction sector, 1,074 reported low-back injuries during two years in the early 1980s. Four out of five were labourers. Two-thirds of the troubles had put the men off work. Half returned in less than two weeks. One in five was away for up to a month. The same percentage needed between one and three months to recover. Not all could return to their previous duties at once, while nearly a fifth went back on light duties before resuming heavy work. Three in 100 were still confined to lighter tasks after five years. One in fifty was permanently incapacitated.
rate of injury was highest among the younger workers because fewer of
those over 35 were still performing the most taxing jobs. The young and
the newcomers recorded more than fifth of the injuries. This bias differed
from other sectors with similar rates of body stress, where the harms to
those over 55 were twice as high. Strain over time compounded the injuries
among that half of building labourers who remained on sites for between
one and five years. Even the less serious lower-back injuries encouraged
labourers to quit the industry, many deciding to leave because of general
wear and tear rather than a fracture.
Back injuries across the Victorian workforce gave rise to an average of
8,000 claims for compensation each year between 1995 and 1999.
Labour-only sub-contractors were in the worst position since their
self-employed status lowered the cost of their labour to the corporates by
eliminating compensation premiums. One of them remarked: “I have seen
guys crawling around on hands and knees because their backs are so
mechanisation, builders’ labourers bore several of the strains that had
afflicted hod-carriers. Whether hoisting timbers, carrying bags of cement
or operating jackhammers, the later generations grappled with materials
and equipment weighing between 43 and 50kg.
Some machinery made matters worse. For instance, replacing the pick and
shovel with earth movers and jack-picks shifted the harm from short sharp
shocks to constant vibration. One form of that damage occurred because of
low frequency tremors through the whole body from the seat in crane or an
earth-mover. Using a drill resulted in chronic numbness, known as “white
finger”; in extreme cases, the joints swelled and the whole hand turned
blue. Jackhammers produced similar symptoms in whichever leg the labourer
used to steady the hammer. As with every occupational hazard, the best
solution is to eliminate the problem by redesigning the equipment to
minimise vibration. Adding dampeners is second best. Allowing more rest
breaks runs a poor third.
The employers’ reliance on inappropriate equipment, and on speed-ups, intensifies the physical demands inherent in labouring. Stress on muscles and bones puts even young labourers out of the industry. Their disabilities leave them chasing lower-paid jobs as cleaners or security guards. Their lifetime earnings shrink. That financial loss combines with their injuries to sour their retirement, during which they face higher medical costs and survive on smaller superannuation. Industrial manslaughter is at one end of a spectrum of the assaults that capital inflicts on its wage-slaves. Body stress is towards the other end.
could not afford to pay wage-earners to sit in the shed. The labourers
could not afford to work in the wet because doing so increased the chance
of injury, short-term sickness and long-term disablement, and thus cut
into their life-long earnings. In 1927, a Brisbane widow had won
compensation because her labourer husband had died after catching chill on
labourers got organised, they bore the brunt of these disruptions when
they lost time. Putting something aside “for a rainy day” was as
practical as it was proverbial. When they did find work, they were stood
down without pay for 15-minute blocks because of bad weather. Employers
paid only for the minutes when their employees were adding value. A 20%
loading on the hourly rate from 1913 brought the annual earnings of a
builder’s labourer closer to those of permanently employed workers on
the Basic Wage.
On wet or windy days around the Harbour Bridge, the men were paid for one
of the two hours they waited to see whether the weather cleared; if no
start, they went home with only that hour’s money.
similar rule applied in Western Australia under the 1938 Award, but
required militancy to secure its operation. On a bridge at Fremantle, the
Communist rigger Paddy Troy stuck up for relief workers whom the foremen
ordered to work in the rain. When Paddy started to recite the Clause “If
in he opinion of he foreman it is too wet to work …”, the foreman
relief workers went home with their two hours money.
remembered that when he had started in the industry in the late 1940s,
“the boss would come up to you and say ‘It’s gonna rain today, home
you go.’ That was it. No pay. He was laughing.”
During the 1950s, wet money of 32 hours in any four weeks replaced a
higher hourly rate to make up for lost time. Labourers henceforth received
the allowance when they were stood down, not as a loading on their wages.
“Wet money” repositioned the uncertainties that Troy had overcome in
the West. Workers initiated the discussion over whether the rain was too
heavy for work to continue, but the supervisor held the final say. Without
pressure from unions, employers refused to pay men their wet money. The
consequences for the labourers’ families could be catastrophic. In one
case, a stretch of broken earnings because of rain saw a Sydney labourer
evicted and his six children put into institutions as wards of the state.
As the Federation regained its strength in the 1960s, the Branches
tightened the terms under which members were prepared to go out into the
wet. If no conference had begun within 30 minutes, the men were entitled
to stop and be paid for the whole day. Complex rules applied about whether
they could be transferred to other work, or be made to walk through rain
to get to a dry section of the site.
job at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital had the usual tangle of
underpayment, poor safety and few amenities in June 1964 when John
McNamara got elected job rep. When the supervisor worried about having
only one raincoat for the crew, McNamara “told him we didn’t need
raincoats because we didn’t work in the rain. When he asked who was
going to wear the raincoat, I told him to wear it himself.” Of course,
the subbie had not supplied gum boots. After the men refused to leave the
shed without them, the supervisor “suggested that he get one pair so
that the men could walk over the wet area one at a time so that he could
take them back to the next bloke. I told him that would be alright if he
sterilised each one and waited for it to dry. If I did not know that this
bloke was a foreman, I would swear blind that he was a comedian.”
keep working in the wet was crucial for concrete pours. Stopping the
operation short meant that the slab might have to be demolished, which
cost as much as its construction.
Labourers were paid double for continuing to work but had to be supplied
with wet weather gear. If no dry clothes were available, they were
entitled to go home without loss of pay. The building unions had to battle
to make employers supply protective clothing and gumboots in compliance
with their Awards.
in 1979, when Victorian workers fell ill after finishing concrete pours in
the rain, the MBAV treated the matter as one of compensation, and opposed
making sickness into an industrial issue. Among the building unions, only
the ABLF insisted that colds and the flu be brought under the Award. After
all, labourers spent more time in the open than tradesmen.
the next year, the Union made Leighton-Candac supply labourers on the
Bowen Bridge with quilted balaclavas and “Tasmanian Bluey” jackets.
Warm bodies did not melt class bitterness. For 20 months, the project
experienced recurrent difficulties because members refused to work in the
The media carried on about grown men sheltering from heavy fogs. Leighton-Candac turned nastier than usual, hoping that the Federation would be distracted by de-registration. Despite those pressures, and after being on the grass for six weeks, only five out of 140 BLs voted to return. The Tasmanians attracted donations from around the country: “This is what being a Federal union is all about. We ask members to hit the kick to support these men and their families.”
Cool water and air-conditioning in the sheds or crane cabins reduced the impact of extreme heat or most labourers. Steel-fixers remained the most vulnerable to heat stress. Experts recommended ten minutes rest every hour. The union told members to stop work on hot days just as they would if it were raining. Labourers were also in danger from touching steel when it was burning hot or freezing cold; they could then lose their grip and fall, or let a tool slip onto another worker.
health authorities recommended a return to protective clothing and
broad-brimmed hats. Other options were for the employers to erect canopies
or to supply the most powerful sunscreens so that labourers could smother
themselves several times a day. At least, the mid-day break had to be
taken under cover. Being out of the sun between 11.30 and 12.30 cut
exposure by 17%. A glance around building site shows that none of these
precautions has become as commonplace as helmets.
When safety helmets had arrived in the early 1960s, a carpenter at the
Opera House complained about their poor design:
So, the workers added a back-flap against sunburn.
organiser Harry Karslake clashed with Gallagher over the unwritten rule
that any problems on Grollo jobs went to him as State Secretary. Labourers
on the Dandenong hospital complained to Karslake that they had not been
paid compensation or overtime. Three phone calls to Bruno Grollo got
nowhere. Karslake then left a message that the job had just been stopped.
Five minutes later, Grollo was on the phone. The monies were fixed before
the day was out.
such as Grollo broke ranks with the MBA by offering labourers higher wages
and shorter hours in return for finishing their projects on time and
within budget. The Grollos, for instance, had torpedoed the 1974
de-registration by securing a pay rise for all Victorian BLs. Gallagher
recalled: “We used them for setting wages for building workers … Once
we’d secured negotiations with him we’d get stuck into the other
builders. The Master Builders’ Association were furious.”
The company signed up for a 36-hour week on the Rialto from 25 July 1983.
Four months earlier, however, Bruno Grollo had pleaded guilty to making
corrupt gifts to Gallagher. A site inspection at the Rialto in April found
illegal scaffolds, power leads on the ground and no safe exit from holes.
The 200 workers did nothing for two days but clean up. The Federation’s
journal - at last - headlined “No room for favourites in this
business”. The report neglected to mention that the April Branch meeting
had been disrupted by drunks who abused Grollo’s permanent workforce as
wogs and scabs. That outburst came while long-time BLs could not find work
but the Grollos were signing on newly-arrived Italians.
Gallagher’s connections with the Grollos curtailed the influence that
the Branch had in implementing the OHS and compensation reforms promoted
under the Cain ALP administration.
Victorian BLs confronted their ancient foe in 1984 when Tory Legislative
Councilors blocked those improvements. The Liberals no longer dared to
refuse central inspection. This time, they hoped to keep inspection
ineffective by opposing minimum fines for employers who obstructed
Department of Labour and Industry officials.
On 5 April, the ABLF protested against this obstruction outside the
Melbourne headquarters of the Liberal Party, where labourers pulled a wire
grill off the building, sparking a punch-up with police. Howls from the
press and Liberal politicians led to nine charges against the Asbestos and
Occupational Health and Safety Officer, Brian Boyd, for serious assault,
wounding and damage.
the March 1985 State elections, the ALP held its first ever majority in
the Legislative Council. Here was the chance to get its OHS changes
through parliament. A challenge to the result in the Nunawading Province
required a new poll in August. The government therefore rushed its OHS
Bill past both houses while the opposition took every procedural
opportunity to delay its passage in the justified expectation of winning
the by-election. The Liberal leader focused his attack on what he called
the “concrete pour” clause which gave elected on-site committees the
power to stop unsafe work on full pay: “The Bill will allow trade unions
to take over and to revolutionise what occurs in the workplace.”
Legislative Council debated the OHS legislation in the same week as Cain
drove through the Bill to De-Recognise the ABLF. Opposition Councillors
alleged that the attack on the union was a sham to court voters in
Nunawading. On the contrary, the war against the ABLF was entering a new
circle of ferocity. When the ALP cabinet handed the BWIU $500,000 to
promote occupational health and safety in 1988, the Age
smelt a rat:
In yet another of the financial scandals of the Cain administration, its Economic Development Corporation transferred funds to underwrite builders to hold out against the ABLF.
The paradox was that the government eliminated the ABLF from sites at the same time as it legislated to make the union’s policy of worker control over safety into a standard procedure. Through 15 years of struggle, the Federation had established that principle, at the price of de-registration in 1974. Now, its Victorian leaders could not save their Branch, although the flow-on from its militancy protected the lives of labourers for years to come.
The same can be said of “Mr Booze”. In the days before other pain-killers, alcohol blocked physical hurt from the damage that labouring inflicted on bone and muscle. From the 1920s, alcohol also softened the pain from war-related blows to mind and body. Because real men were expected to grin and bear it, many drank, which was accepted as a strong man’s failing. A call to moderate drinking has to be a demand to end the conditions at work that made excessive alcohol appealing. Do-gooders denounced the heavy drinking but were silent on the heavy lifting.
in the nineteenth century, opium displaced gin or rum as the drugs of
choice among the poor, to be overtaken, in turn, by beer and plonk. Since
the 1960s, the substances on offer swung back towards opiates once
pot-smoking became as commonplace among the generations of labourers as
grog had been for their uncles. In April 1988, ACT Branch Secretary Peter O’Dea put out a flyer
on the dangers from grog and drugs:
was also concerned about the political consequences from the sale of
marijuana. In two cases, he wrote, “basically decent young people who
support genuine unionism ripped us off for goods and money, because their
addiction drove them to it.” An additional danger came from letting
dealers into the union since they were more likely to be informers, police
plants and provocateurs.
year, the NSW Building Trades Group established a Drug and Alcohol
Committee through which workers developed a policy for disciplining and
rehabilitating any of their fellows who turned up under the influence.
This approach carried forward the ideal that “a union constitutes a
school for the working class … instills thoughtfulness … and broadens
the mental horizon, thereby bringing hope and cheer to the hopeless and
The program has been severed from
its origins as a worker initiative since its Board now includes four
bosses. The addiction of the latter, whether to cocaine or profits,
remains beyond the Program’s reach. Its scope has been limited by the
increase of “self-employed” outside its authority. In addition, the
Building Industry Improvement Act has marginalised union involvement with
health and safety on site, thereby trimming the program’s effectiveness.
Governments and employers individualise the problem by testing employees for drugs and alcohol. This approach follows the turning of socio-economic imperatives for capital into pseudo-medical conditions among workers. In the nineteenth century, doctors had diagnosed a disease afflicting chattel slaves, known as “drapetomania”, its symptom being the compulsion to run away, which was cured by the abolition of slavery. With workers demonstrating how sick they are of being bullshitted and bullied, how many of today’s illnesses are induced by wage-slavery? An examination of the “ingrained culture” of capitalism suggests that alcohol and drug abuse remain “protests against real suffering”, flowing from the indifference to creative work that production for profit demands of wage-slaves.
 K. Marx, Capital, III, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1981, p. 182.
Report of the NSW Government
Commission of Inquiry into Occupational Health and Safety, NSW
Parliamentary Papers, 4th Session, 1981, pp. 179-83; P.
Leggat, “Reporting of industrial accident statistics for back injury
 The General, authorised biography of Norm Gallagher, p. 13 of second chapter in an unpublished 1989 typescript.
 Breen Creighton and Neil Gunnington (eds), The Industrial Relations of Occupational Health and Safety, Croom Helm, Australia, Sydney, 1985, pp. 171-89.
 Building Worker, April 1987, p. 9; 14 November 1987, p. 9; Work Hazards, August 1988, p. 4.
 Building Owner & Manager, May 1987, p. 15.
 The Standards Association of Australia issued codes for cranes and hoists in June 1938. SAA Bulletin, July 1928, 1 (1) p. 3, and 1 (2), p. 8.
 Occupational Health, September 1981, p. 51.
 Australian Builders Laborers’ Federation (ABLF) Records, NSW Branch Records, Mitchell Library (ML), MSS 4789, Box MLK 04261.
 Work Hazards, May 1988, p. 4.
Ben Bartlett, “The Politics of Occupational Health”, New
doctor, 13, 1979, pp. 12-18; “History of the Sydney Workers’
Health Movement”, Australian left review, 88, Winter 1984, pp. 40-45; “Origins of
the Workers’ Health Centre”, Hal Alexander and Phil Griffiths (eds)
A Few Rough Reds, Australian
Society for the Study of Labour History, Canberra Region, 2003, pp.
124-34; C. Le Nevez and L. Strange, “Delivering workplace solutions
in OHS: the workers’ health model”, JOH&S
ANZ, 5 (1), February 1989, pp. 45-52; D. Biggins, et
al., “The role of the Workers’ Health Centres”, JOH&S
ANZ, 5 (4), August 1989, pp. 317-25.
 Michael Quinlan, “Psychological and Sociological Approaches to the Study of Occupational Illness: A Critical Analysis”, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology, 24 (2), July 1988, pp. 189-207; Michael Quinlan, “Forget evidence: the demise of research involvement by NOHSC since 1996”, JOH&S ANZ, 16 (3), June 2000, pp. 213-27.
 Quoted Peter Sheldon, “Job Control for Workers’ Health: The 1908 Sydney Rockchoppers’ Strike”, Labour History, 55, November 1988, p. 41.
Sheldon, pp. 50-54.
NSW Builder’s Laborer,
August 1959, pp. 5-9; Nation Review, 29 June 1973, p. 1130; Penelope Read, Workers’
Compensation (Silicosis) Committee, Preliminary Inventory, The
Archives Authority of New South Wales, Sydney, 1962; Milton Boulter, Workers’
Compensation Practice in New South Wales, Law Book co., Sydney,
1966, pp. 60-65; C. P. Mills, Workers’
compensation (New South Wales), Butterworths, Sydney, 1969, pp.
Brad Collis, Snowy: the making
Industrial Hygiene Branch, Department of Health, to Department of
Labour and Industry, 8 February and
 F. M. Hewitt to NSW Trades & Labor Council, 1 August 1972, and H. Cook to T&LC, 1 September 1972, MLK 04266.
 NSW Builder’s Labourer, April 1973, p. 23, June 1973, pp. 9 and 47; Nation Review, 22 June 1973, p. 1104, letter from Joe Owens, 6 July 1973, p. 1163.
 National Safety (NS) September 2005, pp. 24-26.
Typescript of lecture at Lidcombe Health Centre,
D. L. Gordon Thomas, “Pneumonokoniosis in Victorian Industry”,
Medical Journal of
Australian, 22 October 1968,
p. 11g; Sydney Morning Herald,
27 May 1970, p. 3h-i; Robert Barnes, “Asbestos and Malignant
Disease”, MJA, 11 November
1972, pp. 1107-12; MJA, 20
January 1973, p. 92; P. W. J. Bartrip, Beyond
the factory gates: asbestos and health in twentieth century America,
Continuum, London, 2006.
 Builders’ Labourers’ Federation Journal (BLFJ), May 1983, p. 23.
 Work Hazards, 15, June 1983, pp. 7-9; Australian Building and Construction Employees’ and Builders’ Labourers’ Federation Records, ACT Branch, Noel Butlin Archives Centre (NBAC), Z342 Boxes 1-8 and 15.
 BLFJ, May 1983, p. 23.
 BLFJ, November 1981, pp. 14-15.
 BLFJ, September 1982, p. 17.
 BLFJ, October 1983, pp. 13-15; Unity, July 1984, pp. 17-19; March-April 1985, pp. 14-19; August 1985, p. 13.
 Builder (SA), April 1986, p. 22.
 NSW Royal Commission into the Productivity of the Building Industry, NSW, Parliamentary Papers, 1992-3, volume XX1, Paper 272, p. 297.
 Work Hazards, May 1988, pp. 9-14.
 NSCA’s Australian Safety, November 2000, p. 51.
 NS, September 2007, p. 6, February 2008, pp. 27-29.
Gideon Haigh, Asbestos House, James Hardie, Scribe, Melbourne, 2006, pp. 403-4.
T. H. Kewley, Social Security in Australia, Social Security and Health Benefits from
1900 to the present, University of Sydney Press, Sydney, 1965, pp.
371-73; Claudia Thame, “Health and the State: The development of
collective responsibility for Health Care in Australia in the First
Half of the Twentieth Century”, Ph. D. Thesis, ANU, 1974, pp.
85-114; R. B. Walker, “The Struggle against Pulmonary Tuberculosis
in Australia, 1788-1950”, Australian
Historical Studies, 20 (80), April 1983, pp. 439-61.
 Report of the NSW Government Commission of Inquiry into Occupational Health and Safety, NSW Parliamentary Papers, 4th Session, 1981, p. 120.
 Clare Mayhew, M. Quinlan and L. Bennett, Effects of subcontracting/outsourcing on occupational health and safety, IRRC Studies in Australian Industrial Relations, No, 38, UNSW, Kensington, 1996, p. 124.
 P. Dingle and P. Tapsell, “Cabinet-makers: exposure to formaldehyde vapours”, JOHS ANZ, 15 (3), June 1999, pp. 249-52; NS, July 2008, pp. 32-36.
 NSW Builder’s Labourer, August-September 1962, p. 21.
NSW Industrial Commission, Compulsory Conference,
 Benelong Bugle (BB), August 1965, p. 4; Unity, December 1966, p. 12.
Builder NSW, September 1983,
p. 573; ABLF, Victorian Branch Records, Executive,
 R. Nixon and K. Frowen, “Allergic contact dermatitis caused by epoxy resins”, JOH&S ANZ, 7 (5), October 1991, p. 412.
 Nixon and Frowen, “Allergic contact dermatitis”, 1991, p. 422.
Chas. Rosenthal, Building and
Vivienne Ellis and Susanne Freeman, “Dermatitis due to Chromate in
Cement”, Australasian Journal
of Dermatology, 27 (2 & 3), August and December 1986, pp.
86-89 and 104-6.
 “Nino Culotta”, They’re a Weird Mob, Ure Smith, Sydney, 1957, p. 81; Building and Transport and Timber Worker’s trades union Journal (BTTJ), December 1960, p. 32; Builder (SA), 19 September 1969, p. 37; N. Holmes, “Allergic contact dermatitis: preventive measures in the building and construction industry”, JOH&S ANZ, 7 (5), October 1991, pp. 409-16.
 NSW organisers’ diary, May 1972, MLK 04274.
 JOH&S ANZ, 16 (6), December 2000, p. 512.
 JOH&S ANZ, 3 (3), June 1987, pp. 287-91.
 J. Leigh and G. Morgan, “Hearing loss in the NSW coal-mining industry”, JOHS ANZ, 15 (5), October 1999, pp. 387-88.
 Mainline meeting, Sydney, 28 June 1973, MLK 04272; Sharann Johnson, “Helmet mounted hearing protection”, JOH&S, 2 (3), June 1986, p. 232; Henry Pollack, The Accidental Developer, The fascinating rise to the top of Mirvac founder Henry Pollack, ABC Books, Sydney, 2005, p. 294.
 NSW Builder’s Labourer, June 1973, p. 43.
 W. Williams, “Can hearing protectors provide satisfactory noise reduction?”, JOH&S ANZ, 22 (6), December 2006, p. 562.
 Johnson, “Helmet mounted hearing protection”, JOH&S ANZ, June 1986, pp. 232-3; National Acoustic Laboratories, Attenuation of Hearing Protection, Fifth Edition, AGPS, Canberra, 1987.
 “Interview”, JOH&S ANZ, 2 (3), June 1986, p. 234.
 “Interview”, JOH&S ANZ, 2 (3), June 1986, p. 235.
Greg Foley, “Construction industry occupational health safety
E. F. Hill, Industrial deafness, Current Problems in Law, v. 18, Leo Cussen
Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Melbourne, 1982, p. 19.
G. Bolton, A Fine Country to
Starve In, University of
 Queensland Executive, 9 and 16 July 1961.
Douglas Gordon and H. Silverstone, “Patterns of Accident Morbidity
 Foley, “Construction industry occupational health safety performance overview”, JOH&S ANZ, February 1997, p. 85.
 NS, November 2007, p. 6.
Quoted M. Donaldson, “Labouring Men: Love, Sex and Strife”, ANZ
Journal of Sociology, 23 (2), July 1987, p. 174; see also Douglas
Gordon et al.,
“Occupational Accidents in
Foley, “Construction industry … overview”,
JOH&S ANZ, February 1997,
F. J. Sharrod, “Characteristics of 1,074 cases of work-related
low-back injury in a heavy construction industry”, JOH&S
ANZ, 2 (2), April 1986, pp. 148-51; Greg Foley, Occupational
health and safety in Australian workplaces: the high risk and high
cost of serious body stressing incidents, Worksafe Australia,
Canberra, 1996; Andrew Hopkins, “The Social Construction of
Repetition Strain Injury”, ANZ
Journal of Sociology, 25 (2), August 1989, pp. 239-59.
 Sharrod, “Characteristics of 1,074 cases”, JOH&S ANZ, April 1986, pp. 148-51.
 Victoria WorkCover Authority, Annual Report, 1999-2000, p. 7; cf. Leggat, JOH&S ANZ, 1998.
 Quoted Mayhew, Quinlan and Bennett, Effects of Subconracting, p. 124.
 Work Hazards, 26, April 1986, p. 2.
 Work Hazards, 33, August 1988, p. 12.
 7 Commonwealth Arbitration Reports (CAR) (1913) 210 at 218-20; the Commission refused to allow double time for working in the wet to protect half-finished work, 15 CAR (1921) 108 at 115.
Peter Lalor, The Bridge,
Allen & Unwin,
Stuart Macintyre, Militant, The
Life and Times of Paddy
 The General, authorised biography of Norm Gallagher, p. 13 of second chapter in an unpublished 1989 typescript.
 Builders’ Laborers’ Journal (NSW), November-December 1957, pp. 2 and 3.
John Stubbs, The Hidden People,
 NSW Builder’s Labourer, April 1973, p. 19; NSW Royal Commission, NSW, Parliamentary Papers, 1992-3, volume XX, Paper 267, Appendix F, pp. 166-202.
 NSW Builder’s Laborer, June-July 1964, p. 17; Builders’ Laborer’s Journal, July 1957, p. 4; November-December 1957, p. 3.
 NSW Builder’s Laborer, May 1959, p. 4.
 101 CAR (1962) 318 at 330 and 344-5.
W. R. H. Keast, Building
Journal of the Building, Transport and Timber Workers’ trades (JBTT), November 1958, p. 10.
 Builders’ Laborers’ Journal, May 1952, p. 4; JBTT, December 1959, p. 1; BLFJ, November 1980, pp. 7, & 19, May 1981, p. 7; Tasmanian Building Journal, August 1980, p. 15.
 BLFJ, November 1981, p. 10, July 1982, p.p. 10-11, and September 1982, p. 21.
 Federal Leaflet No. 5, in possession of author; Tasmanian Building Journal, December 1984, p. 8.
Fergus Robinson, Study of
occupational health and safety practice in the construction of the
Work Hazards, November 1987,
p. 6; R. Dircks et al.,
“Skin cancer in the workplace”, JOH&S
ANZ, 3 (1), February 1987, pp. 53-60: JOH&S
ANZ, August 1988, pp. 10-11; JOH&S
ANZ, 15 (3), June 1999, pp. 267-72, and
 Benelong Bugle, December 1966, pp. 8-9.
 Letter from Harry Karslake, 24 September 2006.
 BLFJ, May 1983, pp. 12 and 22; Brian Boyd, Inside the BLF, Ocean Books, Melbourne, 1991, p. 92-93; Victorian Minutes, 8 March 1983, pp. 4-5; Executive, 16 March 1983, pp. 1-2; General, 14 April 1983, p. 3; Executive, 13 April 1983, p. 1, and 4 May 1983, p. 2; General, 10 May 1983, p. 2, and 8 June 1983, p. 3.
 Age, 6 April 1984, p. 17; J. L. Simonds, “The Occupational Health and Safety Bill 1983 (Vic.)”, and Jennifer Doran, “Implementing the Victorian Government’s Policy on Ocupational Health and Safety 1982-1984”, Creighton and Gunnington, The Industrial Relations of Occupational Health and Safety, pp. 124-66.
 Age, 6 April 1984, p. 6; Unity, March-April 1985, p. 13; Boyd was too modest to mention this incident in his reminiscences, “Outside” the BLF.
 Victoria, Legislative Council, PD, v. 378, 18 July 1985, pp. 993 and 1004.
 Age, 26 February 1988, p. 13; “Editorial”, Herald, 23 February 1988.
Herald, 6 March 1989, pp. 1
& 4; John Cain, John
Cain’s Years: power. parties and politics, MUP, Carlton, 1995,
pp. 118-26; Mick Considine and Brian Costar, Trials
in power, Cain, Kirner and Victoria, 1982-1992, MUP, Carlton,
1992, pp. 59-72.
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected
Works, Volume 3, Lawrence & Wishart,
For first-hand accounts from alcoholic members, see Dare
to Struggle, December 1981, p. 16, and Paddy Donnelly, The
hammer and the heart, Pease Publications,
Builders’ Labourers’ News,
NSCA’s Australian Safety,
November 2000, pp. 24-25; telephone interview with Trevor Sharp,
 National Safety, November 2005, pp. 14-27; JOHS ANZ, 23 (6), December 2007, pp. 504-5;
Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald, Exploding
the Gene Myth, Beacon,