Qual­ity and safety re­forms in wake of cladding probe

Australasian Timber - - SAWMILLING -

A Four Cor­ners in­ves­ti­ga­tion has re­vealed that some in­ter­na­tional man­u­fac­tur­ers and their Aus­tralian sup­pli­ers were aware of the risks as­so­ci­ated with us­ing PE cladding on high-rise build­ings, but they con­tin­ued to im­port it be­cause Aus­tralia’s lax and am­bigu­ous build­ing stan­dards al­lowed it.

De­spite more fire-re­sis­tant cladding be­ing widely avail­able in Europe and the USA, the cheaper PE core cladding con­tin­ued to be in­stalled on medium and high-rise build­ings in Aus­tralia un­til 2013.

The num­ber of af­fected prop­er­ties is un­known but could be in the thou­sands, with a pre­lim­i­nary au­dit in NSW alone iden­ti­fy­ing 1,011 build­ings that re­quire in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In a re­sponse to the Four Cor­ners claims, Mas­ter Builders Aus­tralia and its 33,000 mem­bers “want the com­mu­nity to have faith in the safety of our built en­vi­ron­ment,” said Denita Wawn, CEO of MBA.

She said a Na­tional Task­force es­tab­lished by Mas­ter Builders and com­prised of ex­perts from across Aus­tralia was pro­gress­ing pol­icy re­forms that sup­port qual­ity and safety of our homes, work­places, hos­pi­tals and other pub­lic build­ings.

“As Mas­ter Builders has con­sis­tently said, the chal­lenge is to make more ef­fec­tive the ex­ten­sive and ro­bust reg­u­la­tory regime that en­sures the safe use of build­ing prod­ucts.

“It’s com­pletely un­der­stand­able that fires at the Gren­fell Tower in the UK and the Lacrosse build­ing in Vic­to­ria have high­lighted the im­por­tance of a reg­u­la­tory sys­tem that has the con­fi­dence of both the com­mu­nity and the build­ing in­dus­try,” she said.

“Mas­ter Builders has been call­ing for a range of re­forms that ap­plies to the whole build­ing sup­ply chain.

This in­cludes the need for a cen­trally ad­min­is­tered build­ing prod­uct cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem with clear, ac­ces­si­ble in­for­ma­tion and im­proved rigor and en­force­ment of the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions,” she said.

“En­sur­ing that ev­ery­one in the con­struc­tion chain – man­u­fac­tur­ers, de­sign­ers, im­porters, whole­salers, reg­u­la­tors and builders - has ac­cess to clear, con­sis­tent and read­ily avail­able (and re­li­able) in­for­ma­tion about build­ing prod­ucts will as­sist to re­duce the in­ci­dence of them be­ing used in a non­com­pli­ant way.

“This is fun­da­men­tally the re­spon­si­bil­ity of gov­ern­ment, but re­quires a con­certed ef­fort from all those in the build­ing and con­struc­tion sup­ply chain,” she said.

“Mas­ter Builders wel­comes the co­or­di­nated ef­fort be­ing made through the Build­ing Min­is­ters Fo­rum to im­prove reg­u­la­tory set­tings, in­clud­ing its ex­pert re­view of cur­rent com­pli­ance and en­force­ment ar­range­ments,” she said.

“Some of the re­sponses by gov­ern­ment so far in­clude draft amend­ments to the Na­tional Con­struc­tion Code around fire safety and the on­line in­for­ma­tion hub es­tab­lished by the Aus­tralian Build­ing Codes Board.

“Mas­ter Builders will con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for so­lu­tions that en­sure pub­lic con­fi­dence in the safety and qual­ity of our built en­vi­ron­ment which are con­sis­tent, fair and prac­ti­cal,” Wawn said.

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