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Media Release

EWPAA calls for action on non-conforming building product legislation in light of Grenfell fire tragedy

The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) was deeply saddened to hear of the Grenfell Tower fire in London recently and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this heartbreaking tragedy.

The cause of the Grenfell Tower tragedy has not yet been formally reported, but commentary strongly suggests that the type of cladding material used in recent renovations and its installation method may have contributed to the spread of the fire.

The EWPAA joins the Building Products Innovation Council (BPIC) in urging governments across Australia to implement and enforce stronger regulations to combat non-conforming building products (NCBP).

BPIC released a statement last week urging Australian governments to prioritise non-conforming building product legislation and follow the lead of the Queensland government in its recent introduction of a bill intended to control the spread of such products.

Dave Gover, CEO of the EWPAA and a member of the BPIC board, said that the issue of non-conforming building products is real and significant to the built environment.

“Non conforming building products represent a safety risk to occupants, to neighbours, a financial risk for owners, to insurers and financiers,” Dave said.

“Since the Grenfell fire tragedy, it has been reported that Australian politicians will push for investigations into cladding materials, but the NCBP issue is a much broader problem than just a particular brand of cladding or type of material,” Dave said.

“Building products manufacturers have been campaigning for government awareness of NCBP issues in Australia for several years and it is time for more effective regulation, and for meaningful enforcement,” Dave said.

The EWPAA is encouraged that the Queensland government is taking steps to combat the NCBP issue through the introduction of a new bill.

“Debate on this Bill needs to be a bi-partisan effort to pass a robust and meaningful Act which will inspire other State Governments to follow Queensland’s lead,” Dave said.

“In the absence of stronger legislation on the issue, we will continue to see non-conforming building products entering the country, with the potential to cause tragedies similar to the Grenfell fire here in Australia,” Dave said.

The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) is a member association for manufacturers of engineered and solid timber products across Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. The EWPAA coordinates a market development program which includes product testing, product certification, standards and codes development, technical promotion, research and development, market maintenance; as well as education and training.

Media Contact:

Clair Hammond
Communications Officer
Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia Ltd (EWPAA)
Ph: +61 7 3250 3700
Email: clair.hammond@ewpaa.sdhosting.com.au 

EWPAA says substandard imports and non-conforming products risk Australian lives

The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) has made a detailed submission to the Senate Inquiry on Non-Conforming Building Products, highlighting the inherent safety concerns and risks involved with the use and importation of these products.

The high costs involved with producing compliant products has resulted in a shortening of the supply chain, with an increasing number of developers and building companies importing products directly from overseas manufacturers.

Direct importation has provided greater opportunity for non-compliant products, such as asbestos riddled Chinese fibre cement products, to enter the domestic market and put the safety of Australian citizens at risk.

The EWPAA submission draws on evidence from over 25,000 tests performed on both certified and non-certified engineered wood products sourced from across Australasia, over a two year period up to August 2015.

These tests demonstrated that 28 percent of imported non-certified panels products were found to be non-compliant with Australian standards, in comparison with the low 1.5 percent failure rate of certified products from Australia and New Zealand.

EWPAA CEO, Dave Gover, expressed his concern over the testing results and the current lack of regulations relating to the importation and use of non-conforming building products.

“Australia has stronger legislation in place to protect trees in foreign countries being illegally logged than legislation to protect the health and safety of its citizens from wilful or reckless importation of dangerous or mislabelled building products,” said Dave.

“The EWPAA strongly recommends that legislation be enacted to protect the health and safety of Australian citizens in such a way that responsibility for compliance rests with all parties in the supply chain,” said Dave.

The EWPAA submission noted the success of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 in deterring the importation of timber products derived from illegally logged forests, and suggested its use as a template for future legislation relating to non-conforming building products.

The Inquiry has been commissioned by the Senate Economics Reference Committee to consider the effects of non-conforming building products on the Australian construction and building industries, as well as the effects of the illegal importation of products containing asbestos.

EWPAA officials will be attending a public hearing of the Inquiry, to be held Monday 30 January in Brisbane, Queensland.

The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) is a member association for manufacturers of engineered and solid timber products across Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. The EWPAA coordinates a market development program which includes product testing, product certification, standards and codes development, technical promotion, research and development, market maintenance; as well as education and training.

Media Contact:

Clair Hammond
Communications Officer
Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia Ltd (EWPAA)
Ph: +61 7 3250 3700
Email: clair.hammond@ewpaa.sdhosting.com.au