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    Home-buyers will be slugged by new safety regulations: HIA

By CRISPIN HULL


Home-buyer would ultimately pay for new national occupational health and safety standards for residential building, the Housing Industry Association said today (Apr 28).

HIA condemned the decision, announced today, “to impose more regulation on the already over-regulated housing industry.”

HIA’s Ruth Morschel said, “Governments have rushed to impose new obligations on residential builders without a proper analysis of what are the real safety risks in the industry, or the regulatory costs which must be borne by home buyers.”

Since 1984 state and territory governments had introduced more than 440 separate pieces of OH&S legislation affecting the construction industry.

The latest proposal is a national OH&S standard for construction work, developed by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission. It is expected to be endorsed by federal, state and territory governments next month.

Ms Morschel said that while it was right to seek national consistency in OH&S regulation, it should be done on the basis of knowledge, not guesses.

“In the rush to adopt any standard, there has been a one-size-fits-all approach, with state regulators insisting there be a single standard for commercial and residential sectors,” she said. “The nature of the work and of the injuries sustained in the different sectors has been ignored. It means that small family businesses, barely coping with existing regulations, will be subject to site specific management plans, customised safe work method statements and additional design requirements.

“State regulators have already transformed safety from a matter of commonsense and individual responsibility into a risky game of legal liability. In some states, for example, builders are obliged to pay for quarterly safety testing on electric jugs used to make morning tea.

“HIA urges all governments to exempt the housing industry from the new national standard and instead commit to develop a separate standard for residential building, based on sound evidence and analysis.”

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