Welcome to the summer edition of On the Job.

Summer’s come early for a lot of the country, bringing searing heat to the West and East Coast and, sadly, the catastrophic bushfires that have wreaked devastation.

But it’s not just the temperature that is heating up – building activity is also on the rise. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed building approvals rose 7.6% in September, with apartments leading the way (up 16.1%) and detached housing approvals also up (2.7%).

It’s been a year of ups and downs for most builders and tradies who have needed to employ new staff one minute and lay off workers the next as demand for skills and services see-sawed. No wonder so many are looking forward to kicking back and chillaxing over the festive season.

If you’re hanging up the tool belt and kicking off the steel caps for a bit – enjoy. Even if you’re on-call, don’t forget to take time out with loved ones and celebrate the spirit of the season.

From everyone at EBM, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
In this edition:

  • Do you know your asbestos register obligations?
  • Branching out on your own? Better get your insurance sorted  
  • ‘Tis the season to be… stiffed on payments
  • Gen Z homebuyers – yep, your newbie apprentice or work experience kid is your next customer

We hope you enjoy this edition of On the Job


The BuildCover and TradePlusCover Teams





Asbestos in the workplace: tradies
face biggest health risk

Did you know that workplaces need to have an
asbestos register and an asbestos
management plan in place?




This tradie life

 More and more people are picking up the tools,
but if you want to be a successful tradie, you
need to protect yourself.  




It's the most wonderful time of the year...
to not get paid

Santa doesn’t deliver payment cheques in
his sack. So, if you want to avoid payment barneys
over the festive season, use these tips.  



Future forecast... Generation Next

What you need to know about the next
generation of homeowners.  




News in Brief

  • 62% of SMEs underinsured.
    Research from QBE has found 62% of SMEs are unlikely to have the right insurance in place to protect their business, despite 87% agreeing that a liability claim could put them out of business. Roofing services and plumbing services were the two highest claiming sectors. QBE data revealed the top 10 liability incidents were faulty workmanship; accidental damage to the property of others; water damage; impact/damage by vehicle; slip, trip and fall; excavation and drilling damage; impact by object injury; lifting, carrying or putting down objects; faulty product; and fire. Talk to your EBM Account Manager about the right liability cover for your business. 
  • Building approvals up.
    Figures from the ABS revealed a 7.6% jump in the total number of dwellings approved in September (seasonally adjusted). Private sector houses rose 2.8% and private sector dwellings excluding houses jumped 16.6%. The trend estimate of the value of total building approved rose 1.4% with the value of residential building up 0.5% and the value of non-residential building up 2.5%. Queensland led the gain in new home building approvals (+19.6%), followed by SA (+16.0%), with modest increases in Tasmania (+3.4%) and Victoria (+3.3%). However, falls were recorded in WA (-24.5%), the NT (-9.3%) and NSW (-2.5%).
  • Housing market recovery gaining traction.
    Master Builders was encouraged by the September stats from the ABS, saying: “A range of indicators – house prices, lending and now building approvals – all indicate Australia’s housing market recovery is gaining traction.”
  • Construction decline eases.
    According to the Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Australian Performance of Construction Index, October saw a 1.3 point rise (to 43.9 points, seasonally adjusted), indicating a slight easing in the construction industry’s overall rate of contraction.
  • Home borrowing up.
    ABS data showed the value of new owner-occupier home loan commitments increased by 17.3% through to the end of September and the value of investor loan commitments was up 8.4%. The 12.1% rise in the value of owner-occupier housing finance commitments over the September quarter was the fastest quarter-on-quarter gain since the September 2015 quarter. The value of investment loan commitments was up 6.0% over the September quarter, which was the fastest gain since the December quarter of 2016.
  • Construction insolvencies rise.
    Data from ASIC revealed insolvencies in the $150bn residential and non-residential construction industry rose in the September 2019 quarter, spiking to their highest level since the September 2013 quarter. Insolvencies jumped 78% in Victoria, 41% in Queensland and 7% in NSW. Of the 2,309 insolvencies for the year, construction accounted for 22%, up 2% from a year earlier. If you operate B2B, talk to your EBM Account Manager about Credit Insurance.
  • ‘Cool’ tradies in the money.
    According to data from SEEK, air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics are Australia’s richest tradies, pocketing $83,278 annually (on average) – and enjoying 7.7% pay growth since 2016. Electricians ($82,782), fitters, turners and machinists ($79,170) are hot on their tails.
  • Safety a priority on worksites.
    The Safety InSite: Examining health and safety practices in the Australian construction industry report found 76% of businesses place an accident-free workplace as their top priority and 82% had a formal WHS policy in place, but only 40% had a mental health strategy. The report also found 83% believe safety is an integral part of everyone’s job and 79% said employees need to be involved in making WH&S decisions, yet 78% of construction businesses will put the cause of incidents down to lack of care by workers on site. In most companies, leadership and site managers are typically responsible for designing policies, monitoring compliance, managing risk and resolving issues; however, 56% shift the responsibility of identifying hazardous activities onto subcontractors.
  • Vic Govt wants more female tradies.
    Despite one in 10 jobs in Victoria being in the building industry, women make up just 2% of Australia’s construction workforce. So the Victorian State Government plans to invest $500k over three years in the state’s first Women in Construction Strategy. The money will be used to create an online jobs portal to connect women candidates with construction roles as well as career counselling, resume services and recruitment training and support. A new training program developed by the Victorian Trades Hall Council will educate workers and employers about gender bias and violence on construction sites, and a new set of recruitment standard practices for the construction industry will be created.
  • NSW proposes new builder laws.
    Under new laws being proposed by the NSW State Government, builders would be required to register their plans for key elements like water-proofing and ensure works are carried out in compliance with building standards. The new law also states that a duty of care is owed by a person who carries out construction work, making it easier to sue for faulty work. Penalties in excess of $100k would apply to dodgy work.
  • Safety concerns on WA sites.
    WorkSafe is conducting an inspection program to look at safety issues relating to tower cranes in service at WA construction sites. Inspectors are checking crane registration, design, maintenance, communications and signage.
  • Ute sales decline.
    Ute sales – a barometer of conditions in the construction industry – tumbled in October. Sales of light commercial vehicles (utes, vans, small buses) fell 11% (or 9,756) when compared to October 2018, according to data from VFACTS.
  • Owners payout $10.5bn in building defects
    Mozo’s Property Pain – Building Defects Report 2019 revealed new property owners have paid out $10.5bn in repair costs over the past decade to rectify building defects. The average apartment defect bill was $6,434 with the most common defects being internal water leaks (48%) and cracking to internal and external walls (39%). In the decade, with 670,197 apartments completed, the total paid out for defects was estimated at $4.3bn. For owners of houses, the average repair bill was $5,839 and cracking to internal and external structures (42%) and guttering faults (33%) were the biggest issues. With 1,059,913 houses completed over the decade, buyers are estimated to have paid out $6.2bn in repairs.

Lighter side - An unfortunate experience


Next time the site foreman calls for down tools it may not be because you’re in the doghouse – you might well be being called to do the downward facing dog.

Worksites around the country are seeing talk of chakras replacing the guzzling of choc milks as tradies embrace their ‘inner selves’ by practising yoga, meditation and Pilates to improve their mental health.

Byron Bay tradie Daniel Tucker (aka The Spiritual Tradie) told A Current Affair that fatigue and stress on the job would lead to anxiety – then he found meditation. There’s also The Healthy Tradie Project which goes to worksites to teach tradies yoga moves to help with injury prevention.

So next time a fellow worker is waxing lyrical about the strength of their core, they might well be talking about their Pilates centre (behind your belly button) and not the innards of the plasterboard!




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