In the wake of the collapse of a road sign on Melbourne’s Tullamarine Freeway on 8 January, the Australian Steel Institute (ASI) is calling for stricter application and enforcement of independent structural steelwork compliance to help ensure public safety.

ASI Chief Executive Tony Dixon said, “Despite extensive media commentary around the cause of the road sign collapse—much of which has cited connection failure and steel cracking—the VicRoads and Transurban investigation remains ongoing. As such, the ASI cannot provide specific comment on causality.”

“What we do know is that this collapse should never have occurred. Public safety should be the number one priority in the design, fabrication and erection of all structural steelwork. However, in reality, non-compliant fabricated product is endemic in the Australian construction industry.”

“The ASI believes that, in the current international procurement environment, for safety critical infrastructure whose failure may cause death or injury, independent third party certification is essential.”

“For years, we have witnessed the importation of low-quality non-compliant construction products into Australia. According to Australia’s regulations, responsibility for the verification of these construction products is placed on persons who are often paid by the same party procuring the product. This is clearly a conflict of interest.”

“In many cases of structural failures, including the recent Opal Tower structural cracking and the Grenfell and Lacrosse building fires, responsibility can certainly—in part—be attributed to regulatory failure.”

“Australian Standards, such as AS 4100 Steel Structures (which sets out the minimum requirements for the design of steelwork) and AS/NZS 5131 Structural Steelwork – Fabrication and Erection (which sets out the minimum requirements for the fabrication and erection of steel) are robust. Based on principles that have stood the test of time, these Australian Standards represent world’s good practice.”

“The Australian community needs to insist not only that our procurers and regulators mandate the use of these Standards, but that they implement robust policing regimes. This will help ensure that the structures we drive across, live and work in, and walk under every day are safe.”

“As a community, we need to ensure that our regulations are fit-for-purpose and keep us safe.”

The ASI operates the independent National Structural Steelwork Compliance Scheme. Further information on the Scheme.

Media release published 17 January 2019