Build Aware campaign: Vic regulators target Latrobe Valley
Four Victorian regulators have announced plans to take their Build Aware initiative to the Latrobe Valley, to ensure construction workers are meeting safety, environmental, building and plumbing compliance obligations. Energy Safe Victoria (ESV), WorkSafe Victoria, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) and the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) will visit worksites to provide operators with information on laws that protect the community and the environment. The campaign, to run between Monday, 30 May and Friday, 3 June, will focus on the Latrobe Valley, working to educate and call out issues.
Build Aware has previously targeted regional areas including Shepparton, Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Wodonga, Geelong, Bendigo and Warrnambool. Joint activities delivered by the regulators include industry trade breakfasts, joint inspections and educational presentations to local TAFE students. During the week, ESV compliance officers will focus on dangers related to No Go Zones and the need for construction workers and machinery operators to be aware of overhead and underground electrical assets.
ESV Commissioner and Chairperson Marnie Williams said the regulator has been promoting these dangers through its Look Up and Live campaign for more than a decade. “Unfortunately, powerline incidents are still as prevalent as ever, with ESV reporting almost daily powerline incidents, including a fatality in Malvern East, earlier this year. Build Aware allows us to get to regional communities, including those in the Latrobe Valley, to explain the severe consequences of working too close to powerlines,” said Williams.
WorkSafe will look at risks associated with exposure to asbestos and crystalline silica dust and remind employers and workers of the recent changes to the OHS regulations, including the requirements to identify ‘high-risk’ crystalline silica work. The VBA will be checking building and plumbing works as part of its Proactive Inspections Program, which aims to reduce non-compliant building and plumbing work. The EPA will ensure the construction and demolition industries are aware of their responsibilities when it comes to waste management at building sites.
WorkSafe Director of Construction and Earth Resources Matthew Wielgosz said exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos or crystalline silica dust during demolition or construction work can lead to serious and life-threatening illnesses. “Duty holders will be reminded that, since 15 May 2022, changes to OHS regulations mean businesses making dust when working with materials containing crystalline silica must identify and document any high-risk silica work and the measures used to control those risks,” said Wielgosz.
Andrew Cialini, State Building Surveyor for the Victorian Building Authority, said the campaign is a great opportunity to visit regional areas and engage with practitioners, to relay the VBA’s understanding of building and plumbing educational needs and compliance issues. “We have a role in ensuring practitioners understand how to do things correctly, and in discouraging risky, harmful or illegal behaviour. We are also keen to promote to consumers the importance of using registered practitioners,” said Cialini.
EPA Regional Manager (Gippsland) Zac Dornom said waste management issues are common at building sites, adding that it’s important to understand the responsibilities of waste producers, to ensure that waste is properly managed onsite and goes to a lawful place for disposal or recycling. “The new Environment Protection Act has given EPA greater power to protect the environment and community, and every Victorian now has a legal responsibility to take reasonable action to do the same. You also have the power to report illegal waste disposal — it’s a way of protecting the environment and ridding the industry of the dodgy operators who compete unfairly with legitimate builders,” said Dornom.
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