The Australian Steel Institute (ASI) has called for industries supplying into local building and construction to maintain the focus on strengthening schemes aimed at weeding out faulty building products currently flooding all facets of construction.

Following the recent Government Roundtable meeting convened by Hon Bob Baldwin MP, the Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, ASI chief executive Don McDonald released a statement saying that non-compliant products are affecting all aspects of construction, including infrastructure projects, industrial and commercial buildings and the resources sector, not just the housing market.

“Unscrupulous suppliers compromise standards by chasing lowest cost. This non-level playing field is unfair, un-Australian and costing local jobs,” he said.

The issue was made more prominent recently with the release of a landmark Australian Industry Group study, which revealed that most sectors in the building supply chain are encountering sub-standard products.

The local steel supply chain was reported to have the highest percentage – 97 per cent – of non-compliant products.

“As one of the most affected sectors, the Australian steel industry has introduced a dedicated national compliance scheme for structural steelwork based on principles of independent assessment and risk levels appropriate to the type of construction,” said McDonald.

“This scheme targets all types of construction, including large civic centres, industrial warehouses, multilevel buildings and major infrastructure as these categories have the potential for very serious consequences for worker and public safety.

“In addition to safety and durability aspects, the building and construction industry is becoming aware of the cost of rework, disruption and commercial risk associated with non-compliance.”

The Australian steelwork scheme is similar to what has been mandated by legislation across Europe and the UK, where structural steelwork is declared a safety item.

Industry-led compliance schemes were also a strong recommendation in the recent Australasian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) Guide on building product quality, which the ASI contributed to. It calls on a ‘whole of Government’ approach to the important issue and asks all State and Federal Governments to support the APCC guidelines.