Shepparton Blitz Targets Non-Compliant Building, Plumbing Practices

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

During the week-long visit from 27 to 31 May, inspectors from the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), Energy Safe Victoria, WorkSafe and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) visited construction sites across the region and provided information on laws and regulations designed to protect the community, tradespeople and the environment.

In addition to conducting joint inspections, the regulators also hosted an industry breakfast to engage with local construction workers and answer questions on current issues.

In recognition of the important role apprentices play in the construction industry, presentations were held at local TAFE facilities to provide the next generation of construction workers with the information they need to know about our regulatory activities.

During the week, the VBA carried out more than 60 inspections assessing bushfire risk, fire resistance, waterproofing standards for buildings and roofs, and compliance with gas and plumbing regulations.

The inspections identified code violations for wood framing, steel structural members, wet areas and exterior waterproofing and educated plumbers on the importance of installing appropriate WaterMark products.

During its site visits, Energy Safe paid particular attention to safe working practices near overhead power lines and was pleased to see that workers understood these important procedures.

The electrical experts carried out a range of other activities including solar installation site audits and electrical licence audits, while Energy Safe's gas experts checked gas installations at local businesses and issued an improvement order in nearby Euroa. They also distributed gas leak detection equipment to trainees at GO TAFE's plumbing campus in Shepparton.

WorkSafe's activities focus on mobile work platforms (EWP) for both operators and workers on site.

During 39 on-site visits, inspectors issued 32 improvement orders. The most frequently cited problems were the lack of regular maintenance of mobile equipment, EWP safety checks and inadequate testing and labelling of electrical control panels or equipment.

The EPA highlighted the importance of the General Environmental Duty (GED), noise regulations and environmental laws that apply to the construction and demolition industry.

EPA officials visited new development sites and were impressed with the sediment controls in place to protect stormwater and on-site waste management, such as appropriate waste containers. However, problems were identified with the storage and disposal of waste liquids.

Quotes from VBA Commissioner and CEO Anna Cronin

“VBA building and sanitary inspectors visited construction sites across the Shepparton region, where they not only identified non-compliant work but also taught practitioners how to correct it.”

“Our inspectors have found some violations in wood framing, waterproofing of wet areas and exterior walls, and panel construction. When our inspectors find non-conforming work, the installer is responsible for correcting it, saving consumers additional cost and hassle.”

Quotes from Leanne Hughson, CEO of Energy Safe Victoria

“Working with electricity or gas can be dangerous and therefore safety rules and regulations must be followed at all times and in all places.”

“Our gas officers have visited catering establishments to highlight the importance of maintaining gas-powered cooking appliances as well as heating and hot water appliances. The businesses have welcomed the information very much.”

Quotes from Matt Wielgosz, WorkSafe's Construction and Earth Resources Manager

“We remind employers of the real risks associated with the use of mobile machinery, particularly aerial work platforms, and the need to ensure their safe operation on a daily basis on the construction site.”

“The use of secondary guards reduces the risk of an operator becoming trapped, but does not guarantee that the risk is eliminated. For this reason, a safety observer should be part of the overall system that employers use to ensure the safety of their employees when using EWPs.”

Quotes from EPA Northeast Region Manager Ben Kneebone

“EPA will continue to advise the construction and demolition industry on how to prevent harm to human health and the environment. It will also enforce the law with improvement notices and other regulatory tools as needed.”

“The General Environmental Duty (GED) is at the heart of the Environment Protection Act 2017 and applies to all Victorian residents. The GED places a duty on you to reduce the risk that your activities will harm the environment or human health. The EPA encourages everyone working in the construction industry to visit the EPA website to learn more about minimising risks from pollution and waste.”

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