Non conforming products: putting lives & property at risk
It seems almost every day, all across Australia; we see headline after headline of under-performing, defective work, or the use of non conforming products in the building industry. Gary Smith explains.
With hundreds of thousands of building and construction products on the market, produced both domestically and internationally, it is extremely difficult to ascertain whether or not they all comply with the National Construction Code (NCC) and/or conform to the requirements of the relevant Australian or international standard, where they exist.1
The use of poor quality and non conforming building products in the buildings in which we work, live and play is a big deal. Evidence suggests that the market penetration of non-conforming products in several key construction product sectors in Australia may be up to 50 per cent.2
This number is alarming and once a non compliant, or lower grade of product than that specified, is installed, it is typically almost impossible to detect; putting lives and property at risk.
Qualitative feedback from all over Australia indicates that non-compliant glass and window systems are being installed in Australian homes and workplaces every day of the week, often by unqualified and semi-skilled labourers.
There have been several cases around the country where glass balustrades on apartment buildings have spontaneously shattered. Aside from the safety hazard for residents, the dangerous shards can fall on pedestrians below. Whilst some of these cases are pending investigation, others have been attributed to poorly manufactured glass panels.
In addition to this, an investigation by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) on 18 multi-storey residential buildings in southeast Queensland uncovered that the glass used on many of the balconies was not properly certified. Certification paperwork was also found to be signed off by people with the wrong qualifications.
“Glass balustrades are an appealing cosmetic feature but they are, in effect, safety systems and the consequences of non-compliant or defective installation could be catastrophic,” QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett said. “It is not worth it to save a few pennies by using glass that can’t withstand the weight of a person or significant wind, and could shatter or become a deadly projectile falling from a substantial height.”
Along with the Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne and the Grenfell Towers fire in London, these incidences provide ample evidence of the seriousness of the problem; highlighting the need for reform in the construction sector.
Compliant & Fit-For-Purpose Products
The Australian Glass and Window Association (AGWA) endorse compliant, sustainable and fit-for-purpose products. We also take product performance accreditation and verification seriously.
Members of the AGWA are required to manufacture products in compliance with all relevant Australian Standards, ensuring that their products are fit-for-purpose and are made to withstand Australian conditions.
Our members are committed to a more professional industry and:
- Manufacture and install glass, window and door products in compliance with all relevant Australian Standards, ensuring that their products are fit for purpose and are made to withstand Australian conditions.
- Have access to third party NATA accreditation schemes and industry accreditation schemes.
- Are subject to annual NATA inspections.
- Guarantee their products against faulty workmanship and materials for a period of six years (subject to correct installation and product maintenance).
- Conduct business with honesty and integrity, upholding the right to a fair return for goods and services supplied.
- Purchasing products from an AGWA member significantly reduces the risk of a non compliant or incorrect product for your application.
Ensuring Product Performance & Compliance
The AGWA is a NATA Accredited Inspection Agency and undertakes annual audits of compliance to provide members with the means to independently demonstrate product performance and compliance with relevant Australian Standards.
As part of this process, products are tested by a NATA accredited third party to provide independent assurance of technical competence. This ensures that:
- Members manufacture their products in accordance with the fabrication details on their AS 2047 test reports.
- Product ratings and labelling requirements are continuously verified and maintained to provide meaningful consumer comparative product performance information.
- Architects, specifiers and building inspectors meet or enforce compliance with Building Codes.
- Manufactured products being supplied to the market are compliant and have passed AS 2047 Physical Tests.
The New AGWA Accredited Companies Program
The new AGWA Accredited Companies Program effectively merges the previous Australian Window Association and Australian Glass and Glazing Association accreditation schemes into one single, comprehensive and robust program. The new improved blueprint, which takes the best from both former schemes, is designed to raise the profile of our industry, promote industry competence and expertise, and provide greater value for AGWA members.
The AGWA Accredited Companies Program is independently administered and conducted without bias to promote the highest quality standards.
Why Accreditation Matters
The AGWA Accredited Company Program provides a comprehensive framework to develop and demonstrate the skills, experience and integrity of a member’s production systems. Competence and expertise in window production, glazing and related activities will be formally recognised and promoted – making it easier for member’s to stand out from others.
Accredited Companies are provided with the means to independently demonstrate product performance and compliance with the National Construction Code, Australian Standard (AS) 2047 Windows and external glazed doors in buildings, Australian Standard (AS) 1288 Glass in buildings and other relevant Australian Standards.
Skills and Training
Accredited Companies are provided with the technical ‘know-how’ to achieve consistent and reliable performance and a continuing professional development program that allows them to maintain the currency of their skills and improve the competency within their workforce.
Accredited Companies are assisted in providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees and recognise best practice WHS management and employee engagement in promoting safety and wellbeing in the workplace.
About the Australian Glass and Window Association
The AGWA is the peak national industry association representing all window and glazing manufacturers and their suppliers in Australia. Member companies include window manufacturers, glass manufacturers, glass processors, merchants, glaziers and suppliers of supporting machinery, services and materials.
With over 1,000 member companies, we endorse compliant, sustainable and fit-for-purpose products and provide services to members that support their efforts to operate successfully.
The AGWA is committed to raising standards, improving benefits to home owners and protecting the rights of consumers.
For more information on the AGWA Accredited Companies Program, please email email@example.com or call (02) 9498 2768.
AGWA is a NATA Accredited Inspection Agency and operates its Accredited Company Program in accordance with AS/ISO 17020.
1 Australiasian Procurement and Construction Council, ‘Procurement of Construction Products: A guide to achieving compliance’, 2nd Edition, December 2015, page 5.