WITH the release of the Victorian Cladding Taskforce Interim Report, the Victorian Government this month said it will take action to prevent the use of combustible cladding on Victorian buildings as part of the most significant overhaul of the building sector in decades.
The Victorian Cladding Taskforce Interim Report outlines the extent of combustible cladding on buildings and makes significant recommendations to address the issue.
The Taskforce was established by State Government in July 2017 to investigate the extent of non-compliant external wall cladding on buildings, and make recommendations for improvements to protect the public and restore confidence that building and fire safety issues are being addressed appropriately.
"We found the failings identified by the VBA in 2015 were not merely administrative, or paper-based, but were significant public safety issues, which are symptomatic of broader non-compliance across a range of areas within the industry," the Taskforce said in the interim report.
"The problem of widespread non-compliant cladding can be attributed to three factors: the supply and marketing of inappropriate building materials, a poor culture of compliance in the industry, and the failure of the regulatory system to deal with these issues."
The Taskforce has identified up to 1,400 buildings as most likely having Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP) with a polyethylene (PE) core or Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). No building has required an evacuation order by Victorian regulators, provided certain safety measures are met while rectification works are carried out, such as alarms, sprinklers or evacuation procedures.
In response to the Taskforce's findings, the government has directed the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to inspect more worksites and buildings, including a statewide audit of residential buildings likely to have combustible cladding.
The State Government will also:
- Appoint a State Building Inspector;
- Restrict the use of ACPs with a PE core and the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) in Victoria on buildings above two storeys;
- Require the VBA to inspect more of Victoria's buildings each year (from less than two per cent to up to 10 per cent);
- Appoint former VicRoads chief executive John Merritt to the Victorian Cladding Taskforce as a Special Adviser to the Minister; and
- Address cladding on publicly-owned buildings, including hospitals. A Department of Health and Human Services audit has already looked at 1,100 buildings and has identified eight hospitals where non-compliant cladding must be replaced.
More information about the Victorian Cladding Taskforce is available from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website at <https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/building-policy/victorian-cladding-taskforce>.