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Here you will find the latest news and advice from the CCF WA. Keeping you up to date with CCF WA Events, Training, News and Articles on best practice civil infrastructure.
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WA’s peak civil construction industry body says targeted relief for building contractors in the 2022/23 State Budget is no comfort for civil contractors on Government projects who are also battling rampant escalation of cost.
The Civil Contractors Federation Western Australia (CCF WA) says urgent action is needed to provide relief from onerous Government construction contracts that are forcing contractors to bear the brunt of recent massive cost increases and supply chain disruptions.
CCF WA CEO Andy Graham said the new $30 million scheme to assist building contractors working for the departments of Finance and Communities would not help hundreds of local businesses battling soaring costs on Government civil infrastructure projects.
“There is some cost relief for the civil construction sector in the Budget, mainly on a few high-profile, federally funded road and rail projects,” Mr Graham said.
“The budgeted cost of some major projects has increased by around 30 per cent, yet the allocations for all other transport projects has remained the same.
“CCF WA welcomes the acknowledgement of huge and unforeseen escalation on those major projects, but we are concerned that contractors on dozens of other Government projects are facing the same realities yet being forced to fight tooth and nail to have their fair and reasonable claims accepted.
“The standard watertight contracts used on many Government projects are designed to protect the budgeted project cost by any means possible. The contractor is expected to wear the cost of unexpected events or unavoidable delays that are out of their control.
“In normal times, we deal with that and take the occasional loss on the chin. But these are unprecedented times, and civil contractors can’t keep absorbing huge extra costs and mounting losses.
“It’s time to put aside the onerous contract and the legalistic mindset, work together and take an ‘open book’ approach that fairly reimburses all Government contractors for unavoidable extra costs.
“It’s certainly encouraging to see a $350 million provision for general construction cost escalation in the Budget – we now look forward to working with the Government to ensure this provision translates into timely action.”
How to attract, retain and promote women working in the civil construction industry was the issue of the day at this morning’s Women in Civil annual breakfast held by the Civil Contractors Federation Western Australia (CCF WA).
With just 20 per cent of women making up the civil construction industry nationally and Western Australia having the biggest gender pay gap in the country, gender diversity leaders recognised while there was positive work being done, there was still more to do.
CCF WA CEO Andy Graham said the business case was clear – more diversity has a positive effect on productivity and financial performance.
“Since 2011, CCF WA’s Women in Civil initiative has supported and celebrated diversity in the Western Australian civil construction industry,” he said.
“We launched our inaugural Women in Civil Mentoring Program in 2021 which is dedicated to providing support, guidance and professional growth opportunities to women working in civil construction.
“We recognise part of this challenge is making sure civil construction careers are a genuinely viable long-term career option. It’s important we have these discussions and keep moving in the right direction to provide career opportunities for both men – and women.”
Special guest speakers included Minister for Women’s Interests Simone McGurk, Champions of Change Coalition Program Director Tania Cecconi, and Clough Vice President of Strategy and Development in the APAC region Carl Titchmarsh.
Minister McGurk has led the State Government’s Plan for Gender Equality, while Ms Cecconi has been instrumental in shifting the conversation from fixing women to fixing workplaces and Mr Titchmarsh spoke off the back of Clough’s second Employer of Choice for Gender Equality Citation by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
Themes raised included workplace flexibility for both women and men, gender agnostic paid parental leave, government funded female leadership programs on major infrastructure projects, and women’s safety and security.
CCF WA’s Women in Civil Breakfast was supported by Kais Hire, CJD Equipment and Sitech.
Western Australia’s civil construction industry has been blindsided by a new State Government regulation that from today will force thousands of excavator operators to obtain a crane operator’s licence before they can perform straightforward lifting tasks on sites.
With the introduction of the new Work Health and Safety Regulations, WA is the only state in Australia that requires operators of earthmoving machinery to possess a crane operator’s licence when lifting and shifting loads.
Civil Contractors Federation Western Australia (CCF WA) CEO Andy Graham said the industry had largely been caught unaware by the new regulation.
“The new WHS regulations, comprising 800-plus pages, were only gazetted a few weeks ago and this sweeping change to licensing requirements is tucked away as a footnote to a schedule,” Mr Graham said.
“We aren’t aware of any forthcoming advice from WorkSafe about this change, and industry doesn’t appear to have been consulted.
“Underlining the haste and lack of consideration with regards to implementing this change, the newly mandated crane operator training is not even designed to train operators of earthmoving equipment.
“The crane operator licensing training packages are designed around the harmonised national WHS system, which recognises that a crane is nothing like an excavator, and vice versa. Sending thousands of excavator operators off for a crane licence will certainly be a windfall for training providers but it will do nothing for safety.
“If the Government was serious about improving safety, it would ensure the appropriate training in excavator operations – which covers safe lifting techniques – was being delivered to a more consistent standard. This is the sort of unintended consequence of departing from the national framework, which could have been avoided with consultation.”
Mr Graham said the new regulation had been introduced with no consultation, no advice, and no transition period. He said it was out of step with safety and training frameworks in every other state in Australia and would not improve safety.
CCF WA has urged the Government to defer implementation of this new regulation pending further consultation.
“Ultimately, this regulation is unnecessary and should be removed,” Mr Graham said.
The Civil Contractors Federation Western Australia (CCF WA) has welcomed today’s official announcement of the new Civil Construction Pilot Program by the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. Sue Ellery.
CCF WA CEO Andy Graham said civil construction qualifications were now formally recognised as a trade, putting it on equal footing with traditional building trades, with civil construction apprentices receiving a trade certificate on completion of their Certificate III qualification.
“Together with our Civil Construction Industry Training Committee, it has taken considerable work and engagement to get to this point and is a huge step forward for the industry,” he said.
“With government investment in infrastructure at record levels and a strong pipeline of both public and private sector work, trade careers in civil construction now have the recognition they deserve. This is hugely important in attracting new people into the workforce, especially at a time of skills shortages in our industry.
“Not only is this an opportunity to increase both the number and quality of new workers entering the industry, but also to increase employer satisfaction with graduates.”
Mr Graham thanked the Construction Training Fund (CTF) for playing a vital role in helping to advance the proposal with the CTF now investing in wage gap funding to cover any wage difference between trainee and apprentice award rates, ensuring no business or apprentice will be financially worse off by transitioning to an apprenticeship.
“This will ensure the take-up of civil construction apprenticeships is strong and will help the pilot program’s success,” he said.
The decision by WBHO South Africa to put its Australian infrastructure business into administration highlights an ongoing profitability crisis right across the building and construction industry, including Western Australia’s civil infrastructure sector.
Reporting of WBHO Australia’s financial problems has understandably focused on the group’s high-profile Melbourne-based building division, Probuild. Closer to home, the group’s civil construction business, WBHO Infrastructure, is based here in Perth and a key player in the local infrastructure sector. WBHO Infrastructure’s excellence in infrastructure delivery has been recognised by multiple CCF WA Earth Awards, most recently last year for the Wanneroo Rd – Ocean Reef Road Interchange project. WBHO Infrastructure is currently part of the joint venture widening Mitchell Freeway from Hodges Ave to Hepburn Ave.
In a time of unprecedented infrastructure construction activity in Western Australia, it’s troubling that such a strong and capable civil contractor is thinking of closing its doors.
Our thoughts are with the WBHO-I team, who have to deal with this uncertainty on top of all the other pressures they’ve faced over the past two years during the pandemic.
This is a challenging time for all businesses in civil construction. We’re facing the disruptions and compliance burden of COVID-19 while in the midst of a boom in activity, with strong activity across the board in government works, in subdivision development and in resources construction.
While we have been fortunate in WA to have avoided project shutdowns, the pace of progress on projects has been significantly compromised by factors including border closures restricting the movement of people and companies; delays with the supply of materials and equipment; and rampant escalation in the costs of labour and materials.
All these factors have translated into totally unavoidable extra costs for contractors. With profit margins in the government infrastructure sector already wafer-thin, contractors can easily lose money on a project – and increasingly, that’s what is happening.
We are at risk of a profitless infrastructure boom, which will leave the local industry in worse shape than before.
In this environment, it’s more important than ever that when a contractor lodges a reasonable variation or delay claim, that claim is assessed fairly and quickly. Unfortunately, as WBHO alluded to in a statement this week, that’s often not the case, and contractors are all too often left carrying those unavoidable extra costs.
CCF WA believes it’s time for an urgent rethink of the way variation and delay claims are addressed. We need to progress from the current ‘just say no’ culture to a more balanced approach that recognises the importance of spending public funds wisely, while also ensuring that head contractors are not unfairly punished through delayed payment or non-payment where their claims are reasonable and justified.
The state government has been proactive in increasing protections for subcontractors through stronger security of payment laws, and rightly so. Now there needs to be a focus on speeding up payment to head contractors, many of whom must wait months or years to get their reasonable claims settled.
Despite the challenges, all civil contractors and suppliers appreciate the privilege of building the vital infrastructure that underpins economic development and improves our quality of life.
That’s why we do what we do, but increasingly more of our businesses are becoming unsustainable and more of our people are deciding they want a less demanding and stressful career.
The Government recognises this too, and in collaboration with industry is developing a long-term strategy for a sustainable civil contracting sector – a place where people want to work, where capable businesses are valued, and where there are pathways to growth.
The Office of Major Transport Infrastructure Development (OMTID) is leading the way by facilitating this strategy, and we look forward to working with them on its development and implementation.
Western Australia was highlighted as being at the forefront of innovation and technology in infrastructure at an industry event facilitated by the Civil Contractors Federation WA today. Innovations in civil construction are improving the safety of workers, reducing travel times and contributing to positive environmental outcomes.
Manufactured aggregates, innovative traffic management applications and Perth’s Smart Freeway network all featured with several Western Australian and Australian firsts.
Manufactured aggregate is a product which will be produced from the Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) resulting from the Avertas Waste to Energy (WTE) plant in Kwinana – Australia’s first large scale waste to energy facility. The WTE facility will process household waste ordinarily disposed of at landfill and convert it into electricity.
Blue Phoenix Group will transform IBA minerals into safe and reliable aggregates which can be used in civil construction works as a replacement for primary material, such as road base. Blue Phoenix Group’s site development in Kwinana is the first IBA processing facility in Australia.
Perth’s first Smart Freeway Network went live in August 2020 and has reduced congestion on the Kwinana freeway, saving an average travel time of five minutes on the Smart Freeway section despite a 13 per cent increase in traffic since the onset of COVID-19.
The project included technologies of Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD), Lane Use Management Signs (LUMS), Dynamic Message Signs (DMS), and Automatic Incident Detection (AID) which uses a combination of radar and thermal units to detect incidents and obstructions to traffic in real time – another Australian first.
In the traffic management space, products and devices such as mobile barrier systems, combined traffic lights and booms, and auto cone trucks are being adopted in an effort to save lives, including those of traffic controllers.
CCF WA CEO Andy Graham said it was pleasing to see WA pioneering innovation and technology in civil construction.
“There is some great work happening through Main Roads relationship with the Infrastructure Sustainability Council and a lot of good work going on through the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, the waste reform advisory group and the construction and demolition reference group, as well as a highly successful Smart Freeway project now being extended to the Mitchell Freeway southbound.”
Presenters included Blue Phoenix Group South East Asia Managing Director Ian Lynass, Kwinana WTE Project Operations and Maintenance Director for Macquarie Capital Alan Jones, Managing Director of JDN Consulting and Engineering Solutions and Director of Prizstine Consulting Jason Gavranic, and President of the Traffic Management Association of Australia and Managing Director of WARP Group Stephen O’Dwyer.
The event was sponsored by W.A. Limestone, Construction Training Fund and Kais Hire.
The CCF WA 2021 Earth Awards for Excellence in Civil Construction were presented to companies Enviro Infrastructure, Maritime Constructions, Vasse Joint Venture, WBHO SRG Joint Venture and Metropolitan Road Improvement Alliance last night at the industry’s gala dinner event.
CCF WA CEO Andy Graham said the 29th CCF WA Earth Awards featured a strong field of 13 finalists across six categories.
“It’s a busy time for our industry and resources are scarce, so we’re very grateful to all finalists for taking the time to support the Earth Awards and demonstrate their commitment to excellence in civil infrastructure,” Mr Graham said.
“With the State Government’s massive transport infrastructure program dominating our sector’s pipeline of work, it was only fitting that three of the six category winners were road projects.
“Two category winners were local government projects, highlighting the importance of local government works to our members. The other category winner was a project delivered for Water Corporation, another important client to the local civil construction industry.”
Earth Awards for Excellence in Civil Construction Winners –
Project Value more than $75 million: Metropolitan Road Improvement Alliance (comprising Main Roads Western Australia, CPB Contractors, Georgiou Group, W.A. Limestone, GHD, BG&E and AECOM) for its Murdoch Drive Connection project.
This project connects Murdoch Drive with Roe Highway and Kwinana Freeway, improving access and journey times to major hospitals and the Murdoch Activity Centre. Placing the huge 48.5-metre-long bridge beams straddling the Kwinana Freeway was no small task and took more than six months of preparation. The Alliance worked closely with Main Roads to reduce the environmental impact of construction activities as much as possible and environmentally sustainable crushed recycled concrete was used as pavement material on the Kwinana Freeway Widening portion of the works.
Project Value $30 million to $75 million: WBHO SRG Joint Venture for its Wanneroo Road/Ocean Reef Road Interchange project.
Collaboration, innovation, open and effective stakeholder engagement and sustainable delivery were the drivers to ensure project success. A constrained site and needing to lower Ocean Reef Road by four metres and raise Wanneroo Road by three metres required a range of complex services and utilities relocations and modifications. Constructing a multi-grade solution on the site required an innovative traffic management approach including the concept of ‘building a road, to build a road’ and the development of ‘the Kraken’, which enabled multiple complex refigurations to match construction staging.
Project Value $10 million to $30 million: Vasse Joint Venture (comprising Westforce Construction and JWI Contracting) for its Vasse Diversion Drain Upgrade project.
Primarily designed to protect against a one-in-100-year flood event, the upgrade will also lead to future improvements in water quality, waterway health, and management of an internationally significant wetland system. This project is a leading example of how innovation, problem solving, design excellence, dynamic construction and successful client/contractor collaboration can deliver outstanding civil construction, community and environmental outcomes. More than six kilometres of the Vasse Diversion Drain was upgraded, and the Vasse River Diversion Dam reconstructed, during the eight-month project delivery window which also included the design of the pedestrian bridge and redesign of the concrete lined drain section. Despite unforeseen challenges, this project was delivered eight weeks early and half a million dollars under budget.
Project Value $5 million to $10 million: Maritime Constructions and Shire of Esperance for its Esperance Replacement Jetty project.
An innovative overhand construction approach, which included a customised piling guide system, significantly de-risked this highly complex jetty construction which would have potentially been hampered by weather if using traditional jack-up barge construction. Use of the piling guide system also enabled construction of three types of bridge decks – including a timber heritage section – using just the one frame. The project offered an ideal training ground for the enhanced development of Maritime Constructions’ engineers and supervisors who visited site to witness the system in action, providing the company with enhanced skill and confidence in applying similar systems on future projects.
Project Value $2 million to $5 million: Enviro Infrastructure for its Bridge 34 Structural Refurbishment and Widening project.
The bridge’s location on the major heavy haulage transport artery between Perth and the Great Southern meant detailed traffic management planning had to be undertaken, particularly when the deck overlay was removed and highway traffic reduced to a single lane. Due to extensive propping required, the project team decided to hardstand the entire underside of the bridge to the extent of the clearing limits, installing culverts to carry the flow beneath the worksite and allowing clear access for machinery and propping equipment across the entire site. This allowed work to continue in almost all conditions, effectively eliminating weather delays to the sub-structure works.
Project value up to $2 million: Enviro Infrastructure for its Whitfords Nodes Fitness Staircase project.
Located in Hillarys in an area of high environmental significance, the new structure at Whitfords Nodes Park was designed to become the ‘Jacobs Ladder or the North’ and will help to revitalise the area, becoming a focal point for group fitness, young families and community events. Innovative solutions were developed to reduce the clearing footprint and implement a crane lift plan which cleared the Tuart trees that framed the staircase. An unexpected environmental issue meant a versatile approach was needed to swap out concrete footings from the design and replace them with screw pile foundations, with the construction team working in exceptionally challenging conditions to install them.
The Civil Contractors Federation WA has welcomed Premier Mark McGowan’s first Budget as Treasurer, which shows a strong and consistent pipeline of civil infrastructure works over the next four years.
CCF WA CEO Andy Graham said despite the challenges of COVID-19, the State’s major infrastructure delivery agencies and corporations – Public Transport Authority, Main Roads, Water Corporation, DevelopmentWA and Western Power/Horizon Power – had partnered with industry to deliver a record $4.3 billion civil infrastructure program last financial year, nearly $700 million more than the previous financial year.
“That’s been a huge effort under the circumstances by all involved, and demonstrates the strong working relationship between civil contractors and suppliers and our major clients in State Government,” Mr Graham said.
“This financial year, those infrastructure agencies and corporations are budgeting to spend a combined $5.4 billion, out of an overall $8 billion State Government asset investment program.
“That’s going to be a huge challenge given the skills shortages our industry currently faces, which is why we endorsed the State Government’s proposal to smooth the transport infrastructure pipeline.
“In the short-term, however, it has resulted in fewer opportunities for some contractors with spare capacity who were keen to bid on the new projects that have been deferred. So we encourage the government to work with those companies and find ways to support them in retaining that capacity.
“Going forward, we will continue to advocate against excessive aggregation of major projects. It makes sense to encourage a sustainable local contracting industry by procuring projects as head contracts that align with local capacity. This requires the delivery agencies to be adequately resourced so they aren’t compelled to aggregate projects.”
The Civil Contractors Federation WA has partnered with a coalition of Western Australian construction industry associations and trade unions to release an updated COVID-19 risk management guide. The group has renewed its call for constant vigilance and close observance of infection avoidance protocols on all WA construction sites.
CCF WA CEO Andy Graham said it was vital that civil construction sites in WA continued to follow COVID safety protocols around distancing and hygiene.
“As recent construction industry closures in other states have shown, we can’t afford to be complacent,” Mr Graham said. “COVID-safe protocols should be at front of mind on sites and observed at all times.”
The updated COVID-19 health, safety and wellbeing guideline for the Western Australian building and construction industry is available for download here.
The joint Construction Industry Leaders Group media release can be viewed here.
The Western Australian civil construction industry needs 3,900 additional workers to help it deliver a strong pipeline of infrastructure projects, according to a survey conducted by the Civil Contractors Federation WA.
Plant operators are most in shortage, with more than 1300 skilled operators of earthmoving, paving and other machines needed to meet demand state-wide. There are also significant shortages of concreting workers, plant mechanics/fitters, and civil engineers/project managers.
CCF WA CEO Andy Graham said the wide-ranging labour shortages identified in the survey reflected the current healthy activity in private and public sector civil construction.
“There’s a good pipeline of government works, particularly in major transport projects, along with strong activity in new subdivisions and in mining construction,” Mr Graham said.
“When you combine all that with a highly competitive WA jobs market in general, and severely limited access to skilled workers from overseas and interstate due to COVID-related travel restrictions, the result is thousands of job opportunities.”
Mr Graham said civil contractors were actively working with their clients in government and in the private sector to ensure projects stayed on track where possible.
“We’ve had good discussions with the State Government on smoothing the transport project pipeline, which will take some of the pressure off the next year or two and free up more people and equipment for other work,” he said.
“Contractors and suppliers are also working with their private sector clients in land development, resources construction and other sectors to manage issues created by the buoyant civil construction market. Through a spirit of collaboration, we can minimise the effects of current labour shortages and escalating equipment and materials costs, and ensure businesses stay healthy and projects stay on track.”
Mr Graham said strong civil construction activity was good news for Western Australians, especially people looking for entry-level roles.
“The industry strongly supports the government’s ‘WA jobs’ focus. The Infrastructure Ready program, which will give hundreds of Western Australians a fresh start in civil construction, is a good example of how we’re working with government to create local jobs. Our message to Western Australians is, if you’re up for the challenge of working in civil construction, then we want to give you a chance.”
Mr Graham said recent additional government training incentives had been welcome and had led to strong take-up of civil construction traineeships, reinforcing the industry’s commitment to training.
“We expect the proposed introduction of civil construction apprenticeships, currently being considered by the Government, will create a clearer, stronger career pathway into our industry,” he said.
“But the reality is we’re short of skilled and experienced people, right now. Excavator, loader, and grader operators, for example, can take years to reach the level of skill and productivity required on complex infrastructure projects. Just like any other construction trade, it takes time. So we do need to look at increasing skilled migration to fill some of critical skills gaps in the short to medium term.”
For further media enquiries please contact Caroline Boyer, Ph: 0406 083 396, email@example.com
CCF WA Western Australian Civil Construction Workforce Availability Survey
Summary of results
All civil construction/maintenance companies currently active in Western Australia were invited to
complete the CCF WA Western Australian Civil Construction Workforce Availability Survey during
June 2021. There were 49 respondents with a combined civil construction and maintenance industry
workforce of 4,274 workers, comprising 21 per cent of the total WA civil construction workforce of
Survey respondents reported a total of 964 unfilled job vacancies. Allowing a conservative 15% error
margin, this equates to at least 3,900 additional civil construction workers required state-wide to
meet current demand.
Other key survey findings:
* Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics: Labour Force, Australia, Detailed – Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory. The total construction industry workforce in WA (12-month average to May 2021) is 121,701. CCF WA calculates civil construction workforce from Land Development and Site Preparation Services (100% of total) and Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction (85% of total) workforce data.
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