Updated April 29, 2018 11:04:50 Australia’s building industry is under a heavy attack from a growing number of government proposals to increase the price of construction materials, a new report by a Melbourne engineering firm has found.
The Institute of Building Sciences (IBBS) report, Building Safety: A Threat to Your Future, was released this week and highlights the fact that building materials are increasingly being “bought and sold” by governments to boost infrastructure projects, and also by contractors.
In a survey of more than 500 construction workers conducted by IBBS, almost half of respondents agreed that building industry companies have “a significant influence on how a project is managed and financed”.
Building Safety is the first comprehensive review of the building industry by the IBBS since the building boom of the 1980s, which saw construction companies boom in popularity around the world.
The report recommends the Australian government take a tough stance on building materials, and says the current structure of government contracts and regulation is a “disaster”.
“The Australian Government is taking a number of significant steps to protect our country’s economy and jobs, but they do not adequately address the threat from a rising number of ‘buy-and-sell’ companies,” IBBS chief executive, Tim Scott, said in a statement.
“The IBBS report shows that our government must take action now to ensure that Australians are not saddled with unnecessary risk in building materials.”
Building Safety proposes to build a “build it or leave it” mindset, where governments, contractors and building unions all take responsibility for the safety of projects, regardless of whether or not they are being funded.
“In a bid to build sustainable and prosperous communities, governments must put safety first, and contractors and industry should be held to the same standards,” Mr Scott said.
“To that end, we must continue to build on the good work that the IBES and IBBS do in delivering a safer building industry.”
A survey of building workers conducted for the IBIS report found that contractors were responsible for around 85 per cent of the risk in the building of infrastructure projects.
“Despite this growing level of risk, a significant proportion of contractors have been found to be providing dangerous or unsafe services,” the report says.
The IBIS’s report also found that “a growing number” of government projects are being completed “without adequate training” or “without appropriate security measures in place”.
“For example, some government projects do not have security guards and some contractors have not been trained to carry out security checks.”
The report also highlighted that “there is a lack of oversight and accountability for contractors”.
“Governments should ensure that contractors are required to be held accountable for the quality of their work and are subject to the highest standards of safety and environmental compliance.”
Building industry ‘under attack’ The report highlights the threat to the future of Australian industry posed by the rising cost of building materials.
“When a project costs more than $US10 million, it often represents a significant amount of capital expenditure, but when the project is completed, it is the contractors who are left with the bill,” the IBSS said.
According to the IBAS report, more than 30 per cent (33 per cent) of construction workers surveyed agreed that contractors “are responsible for the bulk of the project’s cost”.
The report notes that “building companies have significant influence over how a proposal is managed, and that contractors have a significant influence” on the outcome of infrastructure contracts.
“Building Safety recommends that government should ensure contractors are held to higher standards in order to achieve this.”
Construction contractors are responsible for almost all the risk to the health and safety of infrastructure infrastructure projects when they fail, the report states.
“We know that contractors and the building trades are highly vulnerable to the risk of fire, explosion, and other hazards caused by poor maintenance and poor design, as well as to the loss of lives caused by negligence, improper operation or neglect,” the statement said.
In the report, the IBDS also recommends that governments “take action to address the increasing threat from the growing number ‘buy and sell’ companies”.
Building industry companies, particularly those located in the Melbourne CBD, are the “single largest single source of risk” for infrastructure projects around the country, according to the report.
“There is no better example of this than in Melbourne, where construction companies, the main source of funding for the city’s major infrastructure projects are based,” the survey says.
The IBBS found that more than half of construction industry companies had a history of “mismanagement or financial mismanagement” that “resulted in poor performance”. “
A significant proportion [of the risks] are associated with construction work in Melbourne’s CBD.”
The IBBS found that more than half of construction industry companies had a history of “mismanagement or financial mismanagement” that “resulted in poor performance”.
“There are also signs that some companies are taking on significant debt to support the growth of their businesses,” the study says.
It also notes that more people are now employed in the construction industry than in the forestry industry, which