In the July edition of TimberTrader News I spoke about the New South Wales (NSW) WorkCover scheme shifting fabricators from one insurance provider to another, with no input from the industry.

I outlined the work the Frame & Truss Manufacturers Association (FTMA) was doing, alongside the members affected, to put a stop to this.

It was therefore fantastic news to hear from a member in NSW recently that the lobbying had paid off and the NSW WorkCover scheme had made them exempt from the change – resulting in the fabricator staying with their original provider, QBE.

This is good for the industry as a whole. Other members are still working on the issue, but this highlights the importance of fabricators utilising the association so we can assist with issues such as this.

I have just got back from a visit to Tasmania, and it was refreshing to see such a dynamic industry with a perfect balance of supply and demand. With just four fabricators in the state, three dominant ones who focus on trusses and frames, it was great to see they are all busy – based on approximately 2000 house starts.

Training has been undertaken, safety measures are being addressed, and the businesses in Tassie are actually able to recognise how their “˜opposition’ complements them by picking up the slack and ensuring the demand is met across the board, with no one thinking they should go and set up a new plant.

To continue their growth and analysis of their own businesses, the FTMA has been in discussions with the Tasmanian Business Facilitator for the AusIndustry Entrepreneur Development program. This is the old Enterprise Connect program, run by the Federal Government. If your business hasn’t already been involved with this program, we strongly urge you do so.

The AusIndustry Entrepreneur Development program is eligible for businesses with a turnover of $1.5 million or above in any one of the past three financial years, and is involved in advanced manufacturing (which covers most fabricators in the country). One of their business advisers will come in to your business and perform a free business evaluation, providing you with an independent review of your business.

The review looks at ways you can increase productivity and efficiency through streamlining processes. Your business will then be able to access funding of up to $20,000 on a $1 for $1 basis through the business growth grants, in order to implement on agreed actions from the evaluation.

This funding is for specialist expertise and support, and not for capital type spending. However, these experts can then put you in touch with other government funding options if you wish to invest in optimisation or capital improvements.

For more information you can visit

You can also give me a call and I will put you in touch with your relevant state business facilitator. Many fabricators have already participated, with beneficial outcomes for their business.


Delivery to top plate has always been a big issue for a number of states. FTMA Australia, through consultation with the Victorian WorkCover Authority and assistance from Andrew Kidd of Dahlsens, have designed a Site Hazard Identification & Control Checklist, and a separate document Authority to Unload by Crane, both of which were recently distributed to FTMA members in Victoria.

The documents provided to companies can be placed on their letterheads and forwarded to builders before delivery. This ensures they have information returned on the conditions of the delivery site including power lines, underground services, working from height and terrain/environmental conditions. The form also includes a page for builders – or their representatives – to sign at the point of delivery. This must still be completed before you unload your trusses and frames, or deliver to top plate, ensuring the frame is fully braced and structurally sound to support the weight of the load (according to the relevant standard).

Some people say this is too much information, builders are too busy and will not complete the information, but the FTMA says you owe it to your business safe work practices to ensure this information is provided. At the very least, the Authority to Unload by Crane form should be completed.

If you deliver to top plate because someone verbally states to you that it’s safe to do so, and there is a collapse – then the chain of responsibility laws will have you in their target. By ensuring the builder (or their representative) signs off on the delivery, stating that the practice is safe to do so as specified under the appropriate regulations, you will be covered in writing if something goes wrong.

We have only done this for Victoria at this stage, but will now work with other state WorkCover authorities to have the form approved – or agreed to as they did in Victoria – and most importantly, we will begin a process of promoting the form to the builders and their relevant authorities.

Thankfully, we don’t see a lot of collapses – but then again – when it comes to safety you must always be thinking, WHAT IF.

Is your business covered if something goes wrong? If not, or if in doubt, give us a call to discuss further.


For more information contact Kersten Gentle on 0418 226 242.