Slip­ping stan­dards

Bayside and Northern Suburbs Star - - NEWS | OPINION -

IT was while watch­ing a re­cent Four Cor­ners pro­gram about flammable build­ing cladding, and the re­cent dis­as­trous fires, that I re­mem­bered the in­tro­duc­tion to the Stan­dards As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia; stan­dards are doc­u­ments set­ting out spec­i­fi­ca­tions, pro­ce­dures and guide­lines.

They are de­signed to en­sure prod­ucts, ser­vices and sys­tems are safe, re­li­able and con­sis­tent.

As an ex-con­struc­tion and min­ing project man­ager, I noted the de­cline in ac­cep­tance of stan­dards from the 1980s on, un­til to­day they are rou­tinely ig­nored, with the in­evitable re­sult of more in­dus­trial deaths and in­juries.

Dereg­u­la­tion, private cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, self reg­u­la­tion and pri­vati­sa­tion have been the tools with which the valu­able con­tri­bu­tion of Aus­tralian Stan­dards has been di­min­ished.

Nowhere was this more ob­vi­ous than the deaths dur­ing the in­su­la­tion con­tract pe­riod.

While lack of ef­fec­tive con­tract con­trol was cer­tainly a con­tribut­ing re­al­ity, one of the root causes was the Goss Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to get rid of elec­tri­cal in­spec­tors in the early 1990s.

This led to fail­ure to fol­low wiring stan­dards, which in turn led to many deaths even be­fore the in­su­la­tion project.

In the heavy con­struc­tion and min­ing in­dus­tries I watched in hor­ror as safety stan­dards were re­laxed in the pur­suit of the mighty dol­lar.

The use of dan­ger­ous and non-stan­dard wall cladding is just the lat­est ex­am­ple of this.

I can un­der­stand that politi­cians do not have the skills to eval­u­ate risks in the work­place, but that is pre­cisely why we need to re­turn to ef­fec­tive en­force­ment of reg­u­la­tory stan­dards.

Sooner the bet­ter.

— Mike Crook, Brighton

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