Quality and safety at the heart of Victoria’s Cladding Rectification Program

Thursday, 2 September 2021 at 4:15 am

Cladding Safety Victoria (CSV) is ensuring that quality and safety is at the core of the state’s world leading Cladding Rectification Program thanks to its innovative Clerk of Works initiative.

CSV’s Construction Quality and Safety Manager, Joanne Tyrrell, said a team of independent inspectors has been assembled to provide additional quality and safety assurance and oversight during the delivery of the Victorian Government's $600 million program.

“The clerks are a direct link between CSV and the construction sites and by extension, to owners corporations,” Joanne said.

“A clerk will be assigned to each individual project and attend site regularly throughout rectification.

“We want to support a strong culture of quality and safety and promote accountability on site,” Joanne said.

CSV has made massive progress with cladding rectification on 200 buildings either complete or underway. Another 53 have Funding Agreements in place and will progress towards cladding removal during the remainder of this year.

CSV’s Chief Executive Dan O’Brien said the Clerk of Work program has attracted many high-calibre practitioners.

“The Clerk of Works program doesn’t replace the requirement of builders to meet all of the health, safety, quality and contractual obligations. It’s an added layer of quality control as we deliver the program,” CSV Chief Executive Dan O’Brien said.

The clerks conduct site inspections with a focus on safety, structural integrity, quality of workmanship, correct material use, and making sure that work is done in line with design and product installation manuals.

One of the clerks working in the program, Anne-Laure Chappat, of BGE&E Façade Consultants, brings expertise in façade engineering and architecture to the role.

“We attend up to three or four sites per day. Each inspection is specific to the individual project and has a different focus depending how far works have progressed,” Anne-Laure said.

“In terms of safety, we pay close attention to things such as scaffold installation, traffic management and safe work practice. On the quality side we help make sure the builder is installing the replacement cladding product correctly.

“A report is produced for every site visit and any actions assigned to the project manager or builder can be recorded and followed up. The clerks follow all the relevant standards, codes and installation guidelines, so there should be no surprises,” Anne-Laure said.

The Clerk of Works team is also made up of personnel from Sedgwick and MBB Consulting.

“The expertise across the team is very complementary,” Anne-Laure said.

The Victorian Cladding Taskforce acknowledged the clerk of works has largely disappeared from the building and construction industry. It recommended restoring the role as part of a long-term reform strategy in Victoria.

Anne-Laure said there would be strong benefits to reinstating the clerk of works more broadly across the building and construction sector.

“I know from experience overseas that the clerk of works hasn’t disappeared to the extent it has in Australia. I think we’d see quality improve across the industry if this was to return more broadly across the sector.

“It’s a constant learning process and you can see how builders are implementing the lessons learned from one project on the next,” Anne-Laure said.

Joanne Tyrrell said CSV can anticipate issues on site before they occur thanks to the Clerk of Works program.

“The clerks don’t participate in inspections by WorkSafe or conduct incident investigations. The information gathered has allowed CSV to be proactive and identify areas or trends for improvement and share this knowledge across the program,” she said.