Shepparton inspection blitz targets non-compliant building and plumbing practices

The Victorian regulators’ regional roadshow, Build Aware, recently visited Shepparton to educate and inform construction workers about safety, environmental, building, and plumbing compliance.

The week-long visit, from 27 to 31 May, saw inspectors from the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), Energy Safe Victoria, WorkSafe and Environment Protection Authority (EPA) attend worksites across the region and provide information about laws and regulations that protect the community, the practitioner and the environment.

As well as undertaking joint inspections, the regulators hosted an industry trade breakfast to engage with local construction workers and answer questions about topical issues.

Recognising the important role apprentices play in the construction sector, presentations were delivered at local TAFE institutions to equip the next generation of construction workers with the information they need to know about our regulatory activities.

During the week, the VBA conducted more than 60 inspections, which focused on bushfire assessment levels, fire ratings, waterproofing standards for building and roofing and gasfitting compliance with plumbing.

The inspections identified timber framing, structural steel members, wet area and external waterproofing noncompliance and educated plumbers about the importance of installing the appropriate WaterMark products.

During site visits, one of Energy Safe’s priorities was safe work practices near overhead powerlines, and it was pleased to find workers understood these important processes.

Electrical compliance officers undertook a range of other activities including audits on solar system sites and electrical licence checks while Energy Safe’s gas compliance officers checked gas installations in local businesses, issuing one improvement notice in nearby Euroa. They also distributed gas leak detection devices to apprentices at GO TAFE’s Shepparton’s plumbing campus.

WorkSafe’s activities centred around mobile plant and Elevated Work Platforms (EWP), for both operators and workers on the ground.

Across 39 site visits, inspectors issued 32 improvement notices, with the most common issues being a lack of regular maintenance of mobile plant, EWP safety controls and not regularly testing and tagging electrical switchboards or equipment.

EPA drew attention to the importance of the General Environmental Duty (GED), noise obligations and environmental laws as they apply to the construction and demolition industry.

EPA officers attended new development sites and were impressed with the sediment controls in place to protect stormwater and on-site waste management, such as appropriate skip bins, however issues with waste liquid storage and disposal were identified.

Quotes attributable to VBA Commissioner & CEO Anna Cronin

“The VBA’s building and plumbing inspectors visited sites across the Shepparton region, where they not only identified non-compliant work but educated practitioners on how to rectify it.”

“Our inspectors found some non-compliances in timber framing, wet area and external waterproofing and slab construction. When our inspectors find non-compliant work, the practitioner is responsible for rectification, saving consumers any additional cost and hassle.”

Quotes attributable to Energy Safe Victoria CEO Leanne Hughson

“Working with electricity or gas can be dangerous and that’s why safety rules and regulations must always be followed no matter where you are.”

“Our gas compliance officers visited hospitality venues to highlight the importance of maintaining gas cooking equipment and heating and hot water appliances, and those businesses really welcomed the information.”

Quotes attributable to WorkSafe Director of Construction and Earth Resources Matt Wielgosz

“We’re reminding employers of the real risks associated with using mobile plant, in particular Elevating Work Platforms (EWPs), and the need to ensure their safe operation is a daily priority on site.”

“The use of secondary guarding reduces the risk of an operator being crushed, however it doesn’t guarantee the risk will be eliminated. This is why a safety observer should be part of the overall system employers use to keep their workers safe when using EWPs.”

Quotes attributable to EPA Manager North East Region Ben Kneebone

“EPA will continue to provide advice to the building, construction and demolition industries on ways to prevent harm to human health and the environment, and will enforce the law with improvement notices and other regulatory tools if and when required.”

“The General Environmental Duty (GED) is at the centre of the Environment Protection Act 2017, and applies to all Victorians. The GED requires you to reduce the risk of your activities harming the environment or human health. EPA encourages those working in the building and construction industry to go to the EPA website to find out more about minimising risks from pollution and waste.”

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