High-rise cladding under government scrutiny 

By Jeff Salton on August 8th, 2017

In the wake of two tall building fires – Melbourne’s Lacrosse Tower fire in 2016 and the recent London Grenfell Tower fire – the NSW government will enact a 10-point plan to ensure unsafe building products are taken off the shelves.

The government says the plan will also enable buildings with cladding to be identified and that only people with the right skills and experience can certify them and sign off on fire safety.

Queensland has already introduced tough new measures that reach all along the supply chain to ensure building products are safe and fit for purpose.

Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) has backed the announcement, saying the fire safety package was “a significant, positive step to addressing the fire safety of high-rise buildings.”

“FPA Australia has supported the NSW Government in developing the fire safety reforms that play a significant role in the new plan, which will greatly assist in restoring consumer confidence in the safety of their buildings,” said FPA Australia Chief Executive Scott Williams.

“We welcome this comprehensive 10-point action plan as an important step towards reducing the potential fire risk of non-compliant cladding in NSW.

‘Level of non-compliance’

“The FPA reports that a desktop audit of 178,000 buildings across NSW found that 1011 had installed external wall cladding that would need to be inspected for any level of non-compliance.

“To our knowledge this is the largest review of potentially impacted buildings in Australia to date, covering a very significant number going back many decades,” said Mr Williams.

Currently, owners of buildings that may have external wall cladding installed are being notified of the need to review the fire safety measures in their buildings to ensure they remain appropriate and effective. This includes confirmation that the cladding selected and installed is compliant with the Building Code of Australia, relevant technical standards and local regulation.

“In the interim we advise people concerned about their building to contact the building owner or manager to review documentation and determine if the correct wall cladding has been installed.

Fire safety professionals should be engaged to determine whether the cladding installed is compliant,” said Mr Williams.”Importantly, make sure your fire safety systems and equipment are fully operational and maintained, and that your Annual Fire Safety Statement is up to date. Take immediate action to rectify any non-compliance with external cladding or fire safety systems or equipment.”

A list of fire safety professionals can be found at www.fpaa.com.au/provider.

Safety systems check

If your company’s employees work in a high-rise, when was the last time you checked your fire safety systems? What other safety measures do you have in place for your workers?

Sometimes it’s easy to become complacent about worker safety when your employees aren’t involved in construction or other high-risk industries where machinery and manual tasks are commonplace.

The Health & Safety Handbook has, among its 70-plus chapters, comprehensive information about office safety, fire safety, first aid, asbestos, hazard identification, health and wellbeing programs, mental health, workplace design, and even working from home.

Every chapter is written in plain English by the health and safety experts at Holding Redlich. You can even ‘test drive’ the Health & Safety Handbook on an obligation-free trial.

Let your workers know that you’re not only doing what the law requires but that you are taking that extra step and to ensure your workers’ health and safety is an integral part of your business.

Remember: A safe workplace is a productive workplace.





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