NON-COMPLIANCE CASE STUDIES
RAAF Fairbairn Hanger case study – hangar collapsed injuring 12 workers
Qld bus station case study - Parts Failing - focus on price not quality led to inconsistent quality due to 300 tonnes of steel sourced from 19 countries and 32 steel mills
Steel products corrosion - Some products may not have been tested, for as long or as rigorously to comply with the Australian environment.
Many foreign standards use Total Coated Thickness (TCT) to describe steel product thickness which may not be suitable for design loads under Australian Standards.
Some pre-painted steel products sold in Australia to AS2728:2007 do not use AS1397:2001 compliant substrate (base metallic coated steel).
The minimum single-spot coating mass requirement in the American Standard ASTMA792M is lower than required by the Australian Standard AS1397:2001. If the lower coating mass side is exposed, the material may not perform the same as an AS1397:2001 compliant product.
The imported material is being positioned to compete with, but is not necessarily equivalent to, BlueScope’s manufactured product including Zincalume steel and Truecore steel, both of which conform to AS1397.
If coating thickness and base metal thickness of products made to foreign standards do not meet the minimum requirements set out by AS1397, this may result in reduced durability and structural design performance.
“Build with Standards” website – from OneSteel - highlights recent changes to Australian Standards for structural steel which have been introduced to address industry concerns regarding improved product quality, identification, certification and traceability. The goal is to improve compliance and generate increased confidence in structural steel quality in all end-use applications.
Up until now, all structural steel has appeared the same. With the revised Australian Standards and its mandatory requirements around markings and test certificates, industry stakeholders can readily check if the steel used was produced to Australian Standards and the specifications called up in the design.
Fair Trading NSW recently issued a warning that hundreds of households may have hot water tanks - manufactured and imported from China - not approved for use in Australia which posed a serious risk to health and safety.
Timber frame anchors & bracing
The Australian Building Code requires that structural connectors such as framing anchors and metal strap for tie down and bracing of timber framed buildings complies with AS1684.2-2010. The standard states that these products must be manufactured from a minimum steel grade of G300. Grades below this such as G2 don’t have this guarantee.
The other critical specification for steel quality relates to the corrosion resistance of the products. To comply with the code, products must have a minimum galvanizing coating of Z275 (a minimum of 15.4um of galvanizing per surface.
Pryda has carried out internally or commissioned authorized independent testing companies to test a range of timber connector and strap brace brands being sold to builders around Australia. Tests conducted included salt spray corrosion testing, spectrometer metal analysis, magnetic induction and micro photography coating thickness analysis. The results clearly show that many of the products being sold in hardware and trade outlets do not comply with the AS1684.2-20010.
Productivity Commission Issues Paper on Compliance 2004
BSA (Queensland Building Services Authority) is aware of an increasing trend of non-compliant or poor performing goods manufactured overseas for the Australian building industry. Examples include non-compliant; structural nuts and bolts, roof sheeting, window frames, plywood, floor tiles, finishing plaster, wall paint, etc.
The increasingly diverse range of imported building products will be subject to various compliance standards when installed as building work. Builders will rely on performance assurances from suppliers (manufacturers), and certifiers will rely on compliance assurances from builders. Manufacturers’ of imported products may not offer adequate advice or recommendation on installation or performance.
Verification of performance is dependent on competent persons, reliable certification, manufacturers’ recommendation, and Australian Standards as specified by the Building Codes of Australia and the Integrated Planning Act. If provision for product importation fails to adequately manage the risk of non-compliant building products, prior to building work commencing, then building certifiers and builders may be burdened with an unnecessary risk of non-compliant imported products.
Social expectation in relation to poor product performance inadvertently ends up in costly dispute. The burden of civil litigation that consumers or contractors may have to engage against suppliers and (offshore) manufacturers as a result of defective imported building products can have a significant impact on community resources.
It should be noted that local supply industries competing with imported products must demonstrate compliance and afford a relatively lengthy and costly process as a disadvantage to imported competition that currently may not be so burdened.
The Australian Industry Group report, “The quest for a level playing field, The non-conforming building products dilemma”, November 2013.
Non-conforming products: do not meet regulatory, Australian or industry standards; are not fit for their intended purpose; are not of acceptable quality; contain false or misleading claims or are counterfeit product.
A growing body of Australian building and construction stakeholders (including product manufacturers/suppliers, government and industry procurers, designers/engineers, building surveyors, builders/constructors and technical infrastructure bodies) agree that non-conforming products1 (NCPs) pose a risk to productivity, safety, consumer value and legitimate manufacturers (based both in Australia and overseas). Improvements are needed to the existing conformance framework or product quality will continue to decrease resulting in increased risks to Australian manufacturers, construction workers and the public.
This report raises serious concerns about the effectiveness of Australia’s approach to ensuring the quality and safety of building and construction products.
These concerns put a spotlight on the design and effectiveness of the conformance framework – the standards and regulations - that we rely on to ensure that products are fit for purpose. Conformance frameworks also need to be effective to ensure there is a fair and level playing field for the businesses that do adhere to relevant standards and regulations.
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