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