NEW National body to promote stair and balcony safety

The construction industry is in the spotlight over multiple issues to do with compliance and safety, especially of cheap imported substitute products.

Industry leaders have responded by launching a new professional body to promote safety and certification standards for balustrades – the supported railings that are found everywhere in our cities and homes.

The main purpose of the Australian Balustrade Association is to prevent death or injury due to non-compliant, unsuitable or ageing balustrade installations for stairs and balconies, and in high-rise buildings.

National Construction Code (NCC) rules require the use of balustrades when there is a difference in floor or surface levels of more than one metre.

ABA members operate across all areas of the residential and commercial built environment.

They are motivated by issues such as the non-compliant use of flammable cladding, and the cracking of the Opal Tower apartment block, to unify and develop a professional, sustainable industry and improve safety standards.

Twelve months ago a report by Shergold Weir recommended a national best practice model to strengthen the effective implementation of the NCC.

The ABA strongly supports replacing state-based licensing with a uniform, national code.

At the same time, the association is actively lobbying training regulators and governments to establish a stand-alone accreditation/licence for the industry.

The ABA has already attracted significant founding membership of Australian manufacturers who are keen to eradicate the danger posed to the public by unqualified or non-compliant tradespersons, the use of materials that are not fit-for-purpose, and the counterfeit certification of imports.

The new national association launches at the premises of manufacturer, Elite Glass, in Melbourne, on Thursday, March 21 at 10 a.m.

In announcing the new Association, ABA Executive Manager, Patrizia Torelli, called on the industry to support efforts to introduce national guidelines and standards – for design, safety specifications, fit-for-purpose materials, monitoring and testing.

Torelli is confident that not only manufacturers, but also surveyors, architects and builders will support the association’s work in eradicating non-compliant and unsafe balustrades from Australian buildings.

She said: “The Australian Balustrade Association will be providing the most advanced knowledge and support to industry, to ensure the safety of Australian buildings.”

The ABA is introducing an accreditation and training programme and will be promoting international best practice in fit-for-purpose materials and monitoring and testing methodologies.’

Torelli said that the association looks forward to working closely with government, in establishing a national approach to compliance and enforcement.

If you have any questions, or would like to enquire about the benefits of membership, please contact us by email – [email protected].

Picture: Australian Balustrade Association

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