A new report has found that balcony safety is being undermined by lax and unlicensed safety regulators.
The report by the University of Melbourne’s School of Public Health and Community Health, which looked at a range of balcony safety issues, found that the regulation of balcony seating in Melbourne had fallen behind the rest of the state.
It found that NSW’s Department of Health had not implemented any policies to ensure that balcony seating could be safely used in a way that was not at risk to the public health and safety.
It also found that Australia’s balcony regulations are falling behind the national standard of quality balcony seating.
“The current level of standards for balcony seating at the Melbourne site has been a major barrier to the use of balcony seats in the city,” the report states.
The findings come as Melbourne prepares to welcome its first balcony-attached residential units in 2021, with plans for thousands of homes to be set up in the area.
It is expected to have up to 50,000 residential units, including up to 10,000 units in terraced, terracotta-clad buildings, by 2023.
The study, which was conducted between April and June last year, found the number of balcony-style units in the state fell from about 40,000 to about 20,000 between 2010 and 2014.
It concluded that there were three reasons for the drop: a lack of regulation and oversight, lack of community consultation and a lack, in some cases, of information and guidance.
“There are very few opportunities to monitor and assess balcony seating before a residential unit is installed,” the study states.
It says a lack in public awareness and consultation was also the reason for the “unexpected and potentially damaging” impact of the balcony regulations.
“In some areas, it is unclear how the regulation and safety monitoring requirements are implemented and, if not, why they are not in place,” the research found.
“Public knowledge of the regulation, particularly the requirements for balcony seats, is limited, with limited information available to consumers on how to ensure safe use of the units.”
The report also found the Victorian Government had not made any changes to the regulation in the past six years.
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