Recent developments in non-conforming building products
What is being done nationally
On 23 June 2015, the Australian Senate referred the issue of non-conforming building products to the Senate Economics Reference Committee. The Committee released its interim report ‘Safety – not a matter of good luck’ on 4 May 2016.
The Senate Committee is due to hand down its interim report by 31 August 2017 and the final report by 31 October 2017.
Health and safety risks posed by non-conforming building products (NCBPs) also continue to be a priority for the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF). It is for this reason that the BMF established the Senior Officers’ Group (SOG) to focus on strategies for addressing NCBPs and report on ways to minimise the risks to consumers, businesses and the community associated with the failure of building products to conform to relevant laws and regulations and at the point of import.
The SOG is comprised of senior officers from the regulator agencies from each State and Territory Government as well as from the Commonwealth Government. The Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works is the current Secretariat and Chair of the SOG.
The SOG has developed an endorsed Implementation Roadmap to help plan and map out the realisation of several key recommendations and outcomes that have been agreed to and which are currently being pursued nationally. These include:
- improving State and Territory regulatory frameworks to enhance building regulator powers in responding to incidences of NCBPs;
- implementing a national forum of building regulators to facilitate greater collaboration and information sharing between jurisdictions;
- improving collaboration between consumer law and building regulators;
- the development of education strategies to improve information and awareness about relevant issues;
- improving information provision and data sharing between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories about NCBPs;
- establishing a national website to provide a single point of information about NCBPs for consumers and building product supply chain participants;
- improving the availability of and access to more independent and quantitative research relating to NCBPs (including supply chain analysis and risk evaluation); and
- reviewing Australian Standards related to high risk building products.
Download a copy of the Implementation Roadmap of the SOG’s strategies for addressing NCBPs.
Relevant developments in Western Australia
Issues with NCBPs have been previously identified in aspects of construction in Western Australia, including structural steel and electrical cabling (that is, in the case of Infinity cables).
The issue of NCBPs has become particularly pertinent in Western Australia in recent times given the detection in July 2016 of chrysotile asbestos in a roof panelling product at the new Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH). The Building Commission has subsequently undertaken an audit of the PCH, as well as other buildings across the state which have used similar building products. The Building Commission released an interim report on the PCH audit on 13 September 2016. The final report outlining the audit findings was released on 24 April 2017.
State Government Research Initiative
As part of the State Government’s contribution to the work of the SOG established by the BMF to focus on strategies for addressing NCBPs, the Building Commission is providing funding to ensure the completion of required research relating to NCBPs, and have successfully managed an open tender process to select a suitable research entity to undertake the research. This major project includes the completion of independent and quantitative research to improve the evidence base relating to NCBPs to help better determine the scale and prevalence of issues. The research will also involve the analysis of key supply chain factors, the evaluation of risk, relevant retrospective examination as well as some limited market testing. The lead researcher working on the project is Professor Russell Kenley from Swinburne University.
How to report and provide information about non-conforming building products
If you wish to provide any information or lodge a complaint about a non-conforming building product that you have come across within Western Australia, please email the relevant information to NCBPs@commerce.wa.gov.au.
Other information and resources
- For additional information on the Building Ministers’ Forum, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science website.
- For further questions about the Senior Officers’ Group, email BCQ-NCPSOG@hpw.qld.gov.au.
- Read more information about the Senate inquiry into non-conforming building products on the Parliament of Australia website.
- Further information about the National Construction Code can be accessed from the Australian Building Codes Board website.
- For more information about product recalls, visit NSW Fair Trading website.
- For more information about Australia accreditation and building product laboratories, visit National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).
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