SA suspends construction safety codes
South Australia has suspended three construction codes of practice in response to a review by the state’s Small Business Commissioner.
The South Australian Minister for Industrial Relations, John Rau suspended the Construction Work Code of Practice; Preventing Falls in Housing Construction Code of Practice; and Safe Design of Structures Code of Practice.
The Small Business Commissioner Mike Sinkunas reviewed the codes in consultation with the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and the Master Builders South Australia.
Sinkunas concluded that an unintended consequence of the existing codes would be non-compliance by many in the industry.
“Many [participants] do not have the time, skills, or even inclination to read and digest the voluminous amounts of information and associated paperwork that is seen as ambiguous, confusing and not really relevant to their situation,” his report said.
“The implementation of the current Codes will lead to increased costs to the industry and these costs would be passed onto consumers.”
According to Rau “it is prudent that the Government suspend the Codes of Practice and consult with the building industry, unions and the Small Business Commissioner in order to improve these Codes”.
Rau said during the suspension that all businesses still had a duty to provide safe workplaces.
However, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is concerned that cost rather than safety is driving the suspension and review of the codes.
The CFMEU’s South Australia State Secretary of Construction Aaron Cartledge told Adelaide’s Radio Digital the union hadn’t been consulted about the review and if the codes were watered down this would increase safety risks.
He also rejected claims that the codes were too costly to implement.
The HIA sees it differently, saying the “decision is a victory for commonsense bearing in mind that the Codes were designed without consideration of their impact upon the residential industry.
“It is important that unnecessary impediments to this part of the industry are withdrawn given that we are coming off three years of significant reduction in activity in South Australia with respect to new home starts.”
Published on 21 November 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.