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CROSS-AUS Newsletter 2 - July 2019

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Report Overview

Several events in recent years have raised serious concerns about safety in the construction industry resulting in calls for significant changes in how the industry operates. The Shergold & Weir Building Confidence report submitted to the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) in February 2018 raised concerns about the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry across Australia. And in March 2019 the BMF published its Implementation Plan for the recommendations in that report. In February 2019 the NSW Government published the Opal Tower Investigation Final Report that raised concerns around the effectiveness of the regulatory environment in which we operate and made several recommendations to raise the standards of building design and construction. Similar issues have been subject to detailed investigation in the UK, concluding that there are systemic issues in the construction industry that must be addressed. For details go to: • Building a Safer Future by Dame Judith Hackitt and SCOSS Alert of July 2018 • Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Construction of Edinburgh Schools and SCOSS Alert of February 2017 Previous reports have raised similar issues e.g. Independent Review of the Building Professionals Act 2005 by Michael Lambert in 2015 with its focus on the effectiveness of the building regulation and certification system in NSW; the 2013 Engineers Australia Report on Defect Free Construction in NSW; and the 2005 report by the Queensland Division of Engineers Australia: Getting it Right First Time noted that poor documentation was contributing an additional 10-15% to project costs in Australia. There is a common theme in these documents that the construction industry needs to “lift its game” and we as Structural Engineers must play our part in addressing these concerns. CROSS-AUS provides a conduit whereby we can contribute towards improving quality and safety performance by sharing lessons learned and disseminating advice on good practice. The reports in this newsletter cover a range of issues including some of the concerns raised in the above documents particularly related to competency, communications, documentation, application of Australian Standards, site inspections, quality control, and the influence of parties other than engineers (AUS-8, AUS-3, AUS-7, AUS-2). Unfortunately issues around temporary works (AUS-1) and excavation hazards (AUS-6) remain all too frequent. We encourage you to give us feedback on any of these matters or to submit a report on any safety issues or matters of concern that you may have.

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

AUS-8 Poor quality of structural design on high-rise buildings

The correspondent has been very concerned about the quality of structural engineering on some projects in recent years, particularly for certain high-rise buildings.

AUS-3 Safety concern about the design of thin concrete walls

The reporter raises their concern about the design of thin concrete load-bearing walls, sometimes supporting 10 or more stories.

AUS-7 Managing changes to design

In the correspondent's experience, change is the root of many of the problems discussed in the current debate about standards of construction.

AUS-2 Concern over the quality of steel fabrication for street furniture

A reporter, who is a metal worker, expresses their concern about the quality and maintenance of welded fabricated steel structures.

AUS-1 Set-up of temporary works

A correspondent was called onto site after the formwork for a slab collapsed during construction.

AUS-6 Lift pit excavation hazards

A reporter came across an unsafe deep excavation and asks how a geotechnical engineer views the risk of excavation collapse.

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