Focus on compliance a benefit to manufacturers

Geoff Crittenden, CEO of Weld Australia, outlines how manufacturers should see codes and compliance in a positive light.

In late October, the New South Wales state government introduced the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 to parliament. If passed, this Bill will see much-needed and long- anticipated reforms made to the state’s building industry.

The reforms could see the creation of a new registration system for the building industry, enforced compliance with “declared” building designs that must adhere to the Building Code of Australia, and the introduction of a means by which to pursue damages once the existing statutory six-year warranty for major defects has expired.

NSW Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson said, “The Bill lays the foundations for major reforms within the building sector. The Bill will deliver stronger accountability in the building industry and help deliver confidence back in the industry. The fundamental objective of these reforms is to improve the transparency, accountability and quality of work within the sector”.

The reforms come in the wake of several major incidents, with multiple buildings requiring evacuation due to construction issues. The Mascot Towers complex in Sydney’s south was evacuated in June 2019 after engineers spotted cracking in the primary support structure. This was just six months after the evacuation of Opal Tower in Sydney’s west on Christmas Eve in 2018 for similar structural problems.

The introduction of apparently quite strict regulations for the building industry in NSW marks a significant U-turn by government in relation to the removal of compliance legislation across Australia. The promised penalties and regulations will be designed to ensure that those operating within the construction industry meet the requirements of Australian Standards.

The impact on Australian manufacturing
If passed, the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 will impact manufacturing industry. Those people involved in fabricating componentry for the construction industry will be required to not only comply with, but obtain certification to: AS/NZS 5131 Structural steelwork – Fabrication and erection; AS/NZS ISO 3834 Quality requirements for fusion welding of metallic materials; and AS/NZS ISO 9606 Qualification testing of welders – Fusion welding.

For those manufacturers not operating within the construction industry, now is not the time to become complacent. The faults found in the construction industry, and the devastating impact they’ve had on the general public – particularly apartment owners – marks the beginning of a tightening of regulation and compliance that will be felt right across the manufacturing sector.

The examples cited above of apartment buildings with structural faults really are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the problems that exist. Over the past 12 months, I have been shocked at the number of unsafe steel structures reported by industry. There have been unsafe pedestrian bridges, light poles, and gantries, as well as a major sporting stadium built with non-compliant steelwork.

Similar concerns exist around the caravan and trailer industry. Caravan and trailer manufacturers who are not compliant with, or certified to, AS/NZS ISO 3834 can expect drastic changes to the industry over the next two to three years. For these manufacturers, now is the time to consider implementing rigorous quality controls and certification programs.

A major win for the manufacturing industry
Weld Australia firmly believes that the introduction of tighter regulatory controls throughout the construction industry is a major win for Australian manufacturers. It will force Australian manufacturers to be compliant with internationally recognised Standards, ensuring that Australia is internationally competitive.

Perhaps, at long last, we have finally reach the day where prime contractors will no longer tell their sub-contractors that they are not willing to pay for quality and certification; they are simply looking for the cheapest price possible.

Weld Australia is urging all state governments and the federal government to review their own legislation, compare to it that of the New South Wales Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019, and make the necessary amendments to mandate compliance to Australian Standards.