AI Group report reveals widespread use of non-conforming products in building and construction sectors


A new research conducted by the Australian Industry Group revealed that there is widespread use of non-conforming products which do not meet regulatory, Australian or industry standards, across the building and construction sector.

Image credit: Free Digital Photos user Toa55
Image credit: Free Digital Photos user Toa55

According to a media release from AI Group, the report entitled The quest for a level playing field: The non-conforming building products dilemma, is based on a survey of more than 220 individuals and organisations, and face-t0-face meetings with 240 industry participants coming from various sectors including the manufacturing, fabrication, supply and building industries.

The survey found that 45% of businesses reported lost revenue, reduced margins or lower employment numbers due to non-conforming products in the steel, electrical, glass and aluminium, and engineered wood sectors.

“An extremely large proportion (92%) of companies responding to our survey reported non-conforming products in their supply chains. This raises important questions about quality and safety and it poses serious commercial challenges for the businesses that do play by the rules,” Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox said.

“In addition to evidence of non-conforming products, the report also reveals significant confusion among companies about how to identify non-conforming products and who to report them to.”

Aside from not meeting industry or Australian standards, some products are also not fit for their intended purpose, are not of acceptable quality, contain false or misleading claims or are counterfeit products, according to Mr. Willox.

“Gaps and weaknesses in the building and construction conformance framework are also highlighted.  Non-conforming products are allowed onto the market due to inadequate surveillance, audit checks, testing, verification and enforcement. The report suggests that building certifiers bear a disproportionate share of the burden for product conformance and raises the question of whether more responsibility should be taken by product suppliers and builders.”

To address these issues the AI Group proposes consultation to take place between the industry and all levels of government to promote awareness of the role of regulatory bodies in the building and construction sector. This would also include spreading awareness on how non-conforming products can be reported.

State and territory governments are also to review their building certification arrangements and shall focus on clarifying the role of building certifiers and assessing the adequacy of existing arrangements in preventing the installation of non-conforming product.

Finally, stakeholders working with the Government should examine how to best address the gaps and weaknesses in the building and construction sector conformance framework.

“We also recommend that further research be undertaken on the extent of non-conforming product in other sectors and how the problems presented by non-conforming product can best be addressed while keeping compliance and administrative costs to a minimum,” Mr. Willox said.

“The impact of non-conforming products is a major concern for industry and this report clearly suggests the need to reform the current system to ensure quality and safety and to ensure Australian importers, manufacturers and fabricators have a level playing field.”

Download the full report here.