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1 November 2018

An audit of glass balustrades in apartment buildings across southeast Queensland has revealed underqualified contractors are incorrectly signing off on the installation and effectiveness of glass panels. 

Concerns about unsafe balustrades were raised from within the industry at the inaugural Australian Balustrade Association forum last month.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) conducted an investigation of glass-balustraded balconies at 18 multi-storey residential buildings in southeast Queensland and discovered the glass used on many was not properly certified.

Additionally, certification paperwork was signed off by people with the wrong qualifications.

QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett said ignorance of the standards was not good enough.

“Glass balustrades are an appealing cosmetic feature but they are, in effect, safety systems and the consequences of non-compliant or defective installation could be catastrophic,” Mr Bassett said.

“Just last month we stripped the license from a glazier on the Sunshine Coast after complaints about defective balustrade installation, but now we are seeing that this is a wider issue in the industry.

“It is not worth it to save a few pennies by using glass that can’t withstand the weight of a person or significant wind, and could shatter or become a deadly projectile falling from a substantial height.”

QBCC will be working closely with the industry to educate contractors on the requirements for glass balustrades, including presenting at an upcoming professional development seminar for certifiers and other industry professionals later this month.

Penalties for defective or negligent work can range from fines of thousands of dollars to a 3-year ban for a first offence.

All 18 properties reviewed in the audit were able to address compliance concerns and no further action by QBCC was required.

Anyone concerned about the installation of their glass balustrade can contact the QBCC on 139 333 or visit www.qbcc.qld.gov.au to lodge a complaint.