‘Responsible Wood Director, Mark Thomson, delivers key address at peak Balustrade conference’


Mark Thomson – Responsible Wood plays an important role in meeting social and environmental expectations

‘The concept of certification, and its importance in demonstrating the legality of product, is not widely understood in the Australian balustrade industry. Responsible Wood, the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management, provides the balustrade industry with a chain of custody for all timber used in balustrade materials’ – Mark Thomson

Responsible Wood, Australia’s largest forest certification scheme, is an important ‘trust mark’ supporting legal and sustainable forest management a peak Balustrade conference has heard.

Speaking at ‘Close to the Edge: Balustrades – Complexity, Codes and Casualties’ Mr Thomson joined a panel of leading industry experts to discuss responsibilities, opportunities and new technologies faced by the Australian balustrade industry.

For Mr Thomson, opt-in certification provides an all-important self-regulation to the industry.

‘Certification, either through compulsory government policy and regulations or non-compulsory schemes like Responsible Wood, play an important role in ensuring that balustrade construction meets social and environmental expectations,’ Mr Thomson said.

And when it comes to chain of custody, Mr Thomson challenged industry to engage with, support and participate in forest certification as a matter of best practice.

‘When it comes to the building and construction industry, ‘Chain of Custody’ is a must, it by itself allows operators to make a Responsible Wood or PEFC claim on the finished product.’

‘The Responsible Wood or PEFC claim provides suppliers, manufacturers and operators with evidence that timber used in balustrade is legal, responsible and sourced from a forest that supports sustainable forest management.’

‘The PEFC and Responsible Wood claim has an enormous global impact, and through changes to local and international procurement and legality requirements, forest certification is increasingly a necessity for market access to timber supply and distribution,’ Mr Thomson said.

Indeed, forest certification not only provides the balustrade industry with market access, but it is instrumental in protecting the biodiversity of forests for multi-generational use.

‘Market access is the by-product, by sourcing timber from sustainably managed forests and by carrying PEFC or Responsible Wood claims, suppliers, manufacturers and operators can do their bit for protecting the biodiversity of forests for many generations to come.’

‘Let forests remain forests, safeguard natural habitats for animals and fauna and ensure indigenous rights are protected, ultimately these align with the social and environmental expectations of customer markets,’ Mr Thomson said.

Reflecting on the success of the conference, Ms Patrizia Torelli, Executive Manager of the Australian Balustrade Association and convenor of the conference, highlighted the growing need for peak industry representation in the Australian balustrade industry.

‘The ABA is dedicated to protecting our industry from unqualified tradespeople – lobbying training regulators and governments to establish a stand-alone accreditation/licence for our industry and stop confusing state-based licensing which has encouraged unqualified work.’

Our focus is on improving safety and integrity with a single version of ‘safe’ by creating national guidelines and certification for design, safety, and testing standards, that will unify the balustrade industry.’

‘Our ongoing aim is to prevent injury and death as a result of balustrades not fulfilling their purpose – to prevent fall,’ Ms Torelli said.

For more information about the Australian Balustrade Association please visit the Australian Balustrade Association website at theaba.asn.au.

For more information about Responsible Wood, including the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management, please visit the Responsible Wood website.