Devised by 39 companies, organisations and industry associations representing areas of insulation, building and energy efficiency, the Industry-led roadmap for quality control and safety in insulation has demanded 24 actions from industry and government in five areas.
In particular, the plan puts out the call for:
- Improved provision of data and guidance through development of: professional guidelines; an online portal listing products that have been confirmed to adhere to meet the requisite Australian standard; and installation guidance literature.
- Improved training through: review of training and accreditation for installation installers; devising added conventional units for specific kinds of insulation; devising a certification for lead insulation professionals; offering basic training for trades interactive with insulation; devising training for building inspectors; having industry leaders promoted as accredited insulation installers and professionals; and leading a cost-benefit study on necessitating training for installers.
- Requirements regarding government funded insulation installations including: usage of verified products; usage of pre-approved insulation installation companies; spot independent audits; hiring of accredited installers; adherence to installation specifications and usage of certified lead installation professionals.
- Improved regulation and compliance through: nationally harmonised realisation of recommendations included in the Shergold Weir report; a review to guarantee that insulation specifications are outlined in building documents; calling for a Certificate of Insulation during building signed off by a certified installation professional; new guidelines for provision of time and location stamped photos of insulation to building inspectors; and studies into additional options to enhanced independent assessment of insulation.
- Guaranteeing that building design, construction and retrofit procedures blend all elements of the building envelop through additional analysis on procedures for integrated building envelop construction and retrofit and contemplation of topics affiliated with DIY installation.
When utilised and installed, insulation can help guarantee enhanced health, comfort and wellbeing as well as with lower energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
These benefits can be ensured when insulation is installed in new houses or retrofitted into standing homes.
Throughout the process of installation, we must minimise unneeded gaps in insulation coverage, to allow for space surrounding heat-creating equipment (heating, fans, downlights, etc.) and to maintain moisture related worries, like by making sure that ceiling insulation batts do not make contact with the underside of the roof sarking.
Also, safety issues must be managed in situations that include labouring in a restricted space, working at an elevated space, contact with hazardous materials and electrical safety.
If not dealt with, these issues can be dangerous.
Throughout the Commonwealth Home Insulation Scheme which took place as part of economic stimulus measures in the wake of the global financial crisis, quality and safety issues were discovered on almost three in ten roof installations (see report) and four young installers perished.
As stated in Chapter 6 of a research report released earlier in 2021 to inspire the roadmap, a number of initiatives have been enacted since that time.
Along with a pair of updates to the Australian Standard for Bulk Installation – Installation (AS 3999: 2015) in 2013 and 2015, a good number of installation companies, product suppliers and business associations have devised formal and informal training systems.
For instance, the Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries Australia and New Zealand (AWCI) operates two-day training courses which involve different aspects of workplace safety and insulation techniques for various varieties of batt insulation products.
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) operates an accreditation program for batt insulation installers. To be accredited, installers must: finish AWCI training; hold public liability insurance, a white card as well as working at heights certification; and present evidence of their work in seven batt insulation installations (3 wall/3 ceiling/1 floor batt installation).
In South Australia, the lead contractor for insulation installation must hold a building work contractor licence which includes insulation in its range of activities.
Yet outside of South Australia, there stand no formal registration or accreditation requisites for insulation installation.
And data of those who have gotten formal training and accreditation stay low.
So far, only 27 installers have gotten full CEC accreditation (an additional 46 have gotten provisional accreditation) while 200 individuals have finished AWCI training over the past eight years.
No formal training is given to supply important skills for either spray insulation (i.e., expanding foams) or pumping insulation into walls in spite of these standing as the most cost-effective manner to retrofit insulation into many Australian walls. These skills are not taught in the batt installation training sessions.
In an online video presentation related to the launch, Rob Murray-Leach, Head of Policy at the Energy Efficiency Council, stated a number of elements were essential.
On training and accreditation, Murray-Leach stated it is important not only to offer basic training for site newcomers but also a manner of recognising industry practitioners for a few years that can supervise and oversee labour.
Murray-Leach also said that governments–as both the owners of public housing and incentive providers for private housing upgrades–must guarantee that work is completed with quality control by people trained to a fitting standard.
And the system for insulation installations in new projects and upgrades must come complete with quality control.
Jenny Edwards, Founder and Lead Scientist at Lighthouse Architecture and Building Science, emphasises this need for quality control.
Insulation installed in ceilings, walls and floors, she stated, can lessen household energy consumption by up to 50-75 percent.
Of course, the quality of the installation is just as important.
When visiting houses, Edwards discovers sizable gaps in ceiling insulation. And a mere five percent gap in R5 ceiling insulation can lessen its power to prevent heat transfer by half.
Edwards also emphasises the value of training and recognition in this game.
Developing a manner of recognition for these people, she said, will aid the industry in retaining their services.
To ensure optimum energy performance, Edwards notes that insulation must be considered along with draught-sealing.
Felicia Richardson, CEO of insulation installer company Enviroflex, agrees that training and quality control are important.
Richardson stated that Enviroflex has adapted several measures to reinforce both concepts.
- Hiring, training and developing a permanent workforce.
- Requiring laborers to take courses in insulation installation and gain CEC certification.
- Requiring installers to be subject to undergoing children checks.
- Developing a career pathway for installers, allowing them to advance.
Richardson says that installers should be subject to regulation, as people in many other professions are.
In their roadmap, the 39 organisations have requested a three-year implementation timeframe, which would involve measures related to government supported installations, as well as training recommendations to be finished this year.
Other measures concerning provision of information and guidance as well as training and accreditation would be enacted throughout 2022 while longer-term measures would be carried out in 2023.