New Part 3 for AS 3850 and national guidance material imminent

Mar 12, 2018 Policy & Trends

Work has commenced on a new Part 3 of AS 3850 Prefabricated Concrete Elements, which will apply to civil construction. This follows the tragic death of a worker several years ago on a civil construction site in Western Australia, and a push by National Precast to extend the Standard’s coverage.

According to National Precast’s Chief Executive Officer, Sarah Bachmann, extending the standard was an obvious plan of action.

“One of our priorities is to work to improve safety standards in the industry. We frequently work with both state and national safety authorities in that regard, and this was an opportunity to take a big leap forward,” she states.

Traditionally, AS 3850 has only covered the use of prefabricated concrete elements in the construction of buildings. The standard currently comprises two parts – Part 1 covers general requirements and Part 2 covers building construction. The new Part 3 is currently being developed by BD-066, the Standards Australia committee that is responsible for review of AS 3850.

“As well as initiating the change with the project proposal that was approved by Standards Australia, we are actively involved on the BD-066 committee,” Ms Bachmann details.

National Precast’s President, Kevin Crompton – also Director of Operations at Ultrafloor – is one of the Association’s representatives. Also on the committee is another of National Precast’s Board members – Michael Waeger from Waeger Precast – representing the Civil Contractors’ Federation. Together, they are joined by representatives from allied industry bodies, such as the CFMEU and workers’ compensation authorities.

The committee has created four working groups to address various issues in the proposed Part 3 and National Precast will have representation on all four working groups.

“It’s essential to have people involved who work with the product every day and who are aware of the risks. The new Part 3 will set some standards about what the minimum requirements are when using prefabricated concrete elements in civil construction,” Ms Bachmann comments.

New guidance material to follow

As well as having representation on BD-066, National Precast is also working with Safe Work Australia on the development of guidance material that will sit alongside the Standard.

Guidance material is currently being developed to work with Parts 1 and 2, and once Part 3 has been developed, similar guidance material will be developed for the civil sector to sit alongside Part 3.

“Right from when work first started on the current version of the Standard, we’ve continuously encouraged Safe Work Australia to be involved in the BD-066 working groups so changes to the Standard are compatible with any new guidance material,” Ms Bachmann explains.

“Currently in that space there only exists an outdated National Code of Practice for Precast, Tilt-up and Concrete Elements in Building Construction—but that only applies to the construction of buildings.”

Published in February 2008, the National Code was initially designed to work alongside the previous version of AS 3850, AS 3850-2003.

“Ultimately, we will end up with one standard, with Part 1 covering general requirements, Part 2 covering building construction, and Part 3 covering civil construction,” Ms Bachmann details.

“Then separately, we’ll have Safe Work Australia-developed guidance material on using prefabricated concrete elements in both building and civil construction.”

In the meantime, the Association encourages all civil engineers, precast manufacturers, and civil contractors to familiarise themselves with AS 3850 Part 2 and apply it, where relevant, to their civil work.

The revised Standard, including Part 3, is expected to be drafted by the end of 2018, followed by public comment, which is likely to close in February 2019.

About the Author: National Precast Concrete Association Australia

This article was supplied by DesignBUILD Supporting Partner, National Precast Concrete Association Australia. Started in 1990 by a small group of precast manufacturers, National Precast has grown to become the peak body for the Australian precast concrete industry and is now an organisation which is well known and respected within the construction sector. Now the precast manufacturing industry’s recognised voice, National Precast comprises members both large and small, in all product categories, and across all states.