EWPAA calls for ac­tion on non-con­form­ing build­ing prod­uct leg­is­la­tion in light of Gren­fell fire tragedy

Australasian Timber - - NEWS -

THE EN­GI­NEERED Wood Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­trala­sia (EWPAA) has joined the Build­ing Prod­ucts In­no­va­tion Coun­cil (BPIC) in urg­ing gov­ern­ments across Aus­tralia to im­ple­ment and en­force stronger reg­u­la­tions to com­bat non-con­form­ing build­ing prod­ucts (NCBP).

The call fol­lows the Gren­fell Tower fire in Lon­don.

“We were deeply sad­dened to hear of the Gren­fell Tower fire and our thoughts are with ev­ery­one af­fected by this heart­break­ing tragedy,” said Dave Gover, CEO of the EWPAA.

The cause of the Gren­fell tragedy has not yet been for­mally re­ported, but com­men­tary strongly sug­gests that the type of cladding ma­te­rial used in re­cent ren­o­va­tions and its in­stal­la­tion method may have con­trib­uted to the spread of the fire.

BPIC is urg­ing Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments to pri­ori­tise noncon­form­ing build­ing prod­uct leg­is­la­tion and fol­low the lead of the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment in its re­cent in­tro­duc­tion of a bill in­tended to con­trol the spread of such prod­ucts.

Mr Gover, a mem­ber of the BPIC board, said that the is­sue of noncon­form­ing build­ing prod­ucts was real and sig­nif­i­cant to the built en­vi­ron­ment.

“Non-con­form­ing build­ing prod­ucts rep­re­sent a safety risk to oc­cu­pants, to neigh­bours, a fi­nan­cial risk for own­ers, to in­sur­ers and fi­nanciers,” he said.

“Since the Gren­fell fire tragedy, it has been re­ported that Aus­tralian politi­cians will push for in­ves­ti­ga­tions into cladding ma­te­ri­als, but the NCBP is­sue is a much broader prob­lem than just a par­tic­u­lar brand of cladding or type of ma­te­rial.

“Build­ing prod­ucts man­u­fac­tur­ers have been cam­paign­ing for gov­ern­ment aware­ness of NCBP is­sues in Aus­tralia for sev­eral years and it is time for more ef­fec­tive reg­u­la­tion, and for mean­ing­ful en­force­ment,” Dave said.

The EWPAA is en­cour­aged that the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment is tak­ing steps to com­bat the is­sue through the in­tro­duc­tion of a new bill.

“De­bate on this Bill needs to be a bi-par­ti­san ef­fort to pass a ro­bust and mean­ing­ful Act which will in­spire other State Gov­ern­ments to fol­low Queens­land’s lead,” Dave said.

“In the ab­sence of stronger leg­is­la­tion on the is­sue, we will con­tinue to see non-con­form­ing build­ing prod­ucts en­ter­ing the coun­try, with the po­ten­tial to cause tragedies sim­i­lar to the Gren­fell fire here in Aus­tralia,” he said.

The En­gi­neered Wood Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­trala­sia (EWPAA) is a mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tion for man­u­fac­tur­ers of en­gi­neered and solid tim­ber prod­ucts across Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Pa­pua New Guinea and Fiji. The EWPAA co­or­di­nates a mar­ket de­vel­op­ment pro­gram which in­cludes prod­uct test­ing, prod­uct cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, stan­dards and codes de­vel­op­ment, tech­ni­cal pro­mo­tion, re­search and de­vel­op­ment, mar­ket main­te­nance; as well as ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing.

Build­ing Min­is­ters move on build­ing prod­uct safety

A late June meet­ing of the Build­ing Min­is­ters’ Fo­rum pre­sented a crit­i­cal op­por­tu­nity to take ac­tion on build­ing prod­uct safety.

“In the wake of the Lon­don fire and calls by many to un­der­take au­dits of res­i­den­tial apart­ment build­ings and other high risk build­ings, it was ex­pected that the Build­ing Min­is­ters would dis­cuss po­ten­tial ac­tions to en­sure the safety of build­ings in Aus­tralia,” said HIA

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive In­dus­try Pol­icy, Kristin Brook­field.

“The Min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion to en­gage an ex­pert to carry out a re­view of com­pli­ance and en­force­ment of build­ing reg­u­la­tions may pro­vide valu­able in­sights into how the build­ing ap­proval process can be im­proved.

“Equally im­por­tant is the de­ci­sion to ex­pe­dite the ac­tions al­ready un­der way by the Aus­tralian Build­ing Codes Board on build­ing prod­ucts be­ing used in ac­cor­dance with the Na­tional Con­struc­tion Code which are aimed at en­sur­ing ev­ery­one in the build­ing process in­ter­prets the code in the same way and that peo­ple check­ing in­for­ma­tion about build­ing prod­uct con­for­mance un­der­stand what to ask for.”

In 2015, HIA at­tended the Build­ing Min­is­ters’ Fo­rum and called on all gov­ern­ments to take ac­tion. The Build­ing Min­is­ters in­ves­ti­gated in­dus­try’s con­cerns and agreed to a num­ber of rec­om­mended ac­tions when they met in early 2016.

HIA has sup­ported the pro­posed ac­tions on high risk build­ings be­ing un­der­taken by both the Build­ing Min­is­ters and the Aus­tralian Build­ing Codes Board since 2016.

“We have pro­vided di­rect in­put to many of the changes now ex­pected to be in­cluded in the Na­tional Con­struc­tion Code in 2019. How­ever, the ac­tions to be taken by the states and ter­ri­to­ries do ap­pear to be tak­ing more time to fi­nalise than we had hoped.

“The ac­tions agreed to by Min­is­ters in 2016 re­main the key steps to im­prov­ing build­ing safety in Aus­tralia and they should be pro­gressed as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“The ABCB has launched a na­tional web­page to as­sist peo­ple un­der­stand

more about build­ing prod­uct safety. This web­page also al­lows peo­ple to re­port any con­cerns they may have to the rel­e­vant state author­ity. www.abcb.gov.au

“A na­tional web­page like this is im­por­tant for ev­ery­one in the build­ing prod­uct sup­ply chain - builders, con­sumers, build­ing cer­ti­fiers and com­pa­nies that make build­ing prod­ucts,” said Ms Brook­field.

In 2012, HIA’s na­tional sum­mit, Build­ing Prod­ucts: a com­pli­ance free zone? high­lighted the hous­ing in­dus­try’s con­cerns that builders were ef­fec­tively the first and the last line of de­fence in en­sur­ing the ma­te­ri­als used in new homes are fit for pur­pose.

“HIA has fo­cused on sup­port­ing our mem­bers to im­prove their aware­ness of the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with noncon­form­ing build­ing prod­ucts. How­ever it is im­por­tant, now more than ever, to have po­lit­i­cal sup­port to take ac­tion and en­sure that builders are not the only peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for check­ing prod­uct qual­ity.”

■ Deadly blaze in the Gren­fell Tower.

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