Clarence Correctional Centre New Grafton Jail
Clarence Correctional Centre New Grafton Jail Tim Jarrett

Jail safety questioned in bomb threat evacuation

WORKERS evacuated from the site of a bomb threat at the Clarence Correctional Centre were walked through the building where an explosive device was supposedly in place says a union official.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union organiser Dean Rielly said on Monday the company in charge at the site, John Holland, had been told a bomb had been placed in building 10 in the male maximum security area.

"What did they do?" he said. "They walked workers out of male max through building 10. The area where the bomb threat was. What an absolute joke."

Mr Rielly said there had been other questionable safety procedures following the bomb threat.

After the evacuation, workers were told they could go back to work at other areas of the site based on police advice those sites were safe.

Mr Rielly said that was unlikely.

"If a bomb went off and a worker was hit in the head by a flying lump of concrete, the police would have to say why they advised people to go back on site," Mr Rielly said.

"John Holland is trying to throw responsibility back onto the police, when under the Work Health and Safety Act, when someone has taken control of a site they can't throw their legal obligation back onto someone else."

He said the union was dismayed the company allowed workers to remain possibly within the blast range of a bomb.

He said work had been closed down in the male maximum security area, but workers were allowed back on site in the female maximum security, male minimum and female minimum security areas.

"Building 10 is 150m the edge of female max. That's bugger all in the scale of things out there," he said.

"John Holland had put a guy on the gate at male max. Company executives said a concrete wall between female max and male max would be enough protection.

"That wall would not have stopped bits of concrete and shrapnel flying from an explosion in building 10."

The union said the company had not fulfilled its obligation of informing workers of the possible risks on the site when workers turned up for work on Tuesday.

"Workers were told they did not have to work on the site if they were worried about safety risks," Mr Rielly said.

He said there were about 100 workers on site on Tuesday, with a number staying away due to the bomb threat.

"The company had obviously not informed all its workers of the situation," Mr Rielly said.

"I did a walk-around talking to people and found at least six people who'd heard there had been a bomb threat, but had not been told where it was.

"They could have walked into range of a bomb blast without realising it. John Holland had an obligation to make sure all its workers knew exactly what the risks were when they were allowed on site."

John Holland has declined to comment while it remains an ongoing police matter.

NSW Police said a search of the site failed to find a bomb and it has returned control of the site to Clarence Correctional Centre management.

Police said they will continue to work with company management to find the source of the threat.