The lack of regulation covering steel manufacturing, fabrication and erection is a national disgrace, according to Weld Australia CEO, Geoff Crittenden.

In a bid to improve safety for boilermakers and welders, Crittenden met with Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) Victorian state secretary, Tony Mavromatis, to discuss a range of safety and compliance issues.

Discussions focused on Australia’s relaxed welding regulatory and compliance frameworks, which have resulted in a growing lack of adherence to Australian Welding Standards, and a substantial increase in the risk of welding related injury for both workers and members of the public.

“There is absolutely no question, lives are at risk. The only way to guarantee public safety is to implement and enforce regulations that mandate compliance to Australian Standards for the manufacture, fabrication, and erection of steel within Australia, and the inspection of imported structural and fabricated steel,” Crittenden said.

Mavromatis said the AMWU has a lot of members who are welders and boilermakers.

“They are watching as their trade is degraded. The big concern is that if non-qualified people are welding—whether it’s a multi-storey building or a road sign—someone is going to die,” Mayromatis said.

“Until someone is seriously hurt, the authorities won’t pay attention.

“We have a range of concerns. Do builders, surveyors, fabricators and engineers understand what is required when it comes to meeting Australian Standards? Most concerning of all, there are no welding regulations mandated by legislation.”

Together, Weld Australia and the AMWU are working to develop and maintain the framework and infrastructure required to identify and analyse welding risk, and formulate and execute mitigation strategies.

Safe Work Australia is currently undertaking a review of Workplace Health & Safety Laws.

Safe Work Australia CEO, Michelle Baxter, said overall the review found that WHS laws have been effective but identified areas that need to be addressed with 34 recommendations.

“We are now seeking feedback on the recommendations with consultation open for six weeks,” she said.

Written submissions are due by August 5, 2019.

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