Lead paint and asbestos being handled by unskilled painters: industry

Get Qualified Australia offers a range of qualifications for the Skills Recognition and Recognition of Prior Learning scheme. Photo: Get Qualified Australia website Industry figures suggest the number of unskilled painters in NSW has grown since painting licensing laws changed in 2015. Photo: Julia Nicholls
Nanjing Night Net

 

Australia’s peak professional body for the painting industry has expressed serious concerns about tradespeople who have been issued qualifications to handle toxic materials without the requisite training.

The National Institute of Painting and Decorating (NIPD) raised questions about the validity of painting qualifications issued by Get Qualified Australia, a vocational education provider, which was recently stripped of registration for three of its training organisations.

The education consultancy assists job seekers in obtaining qualifications to recognise prior learning in a range of industries, linking them with its own training organisations and others.

“I have spoken to at least three painters who obtained a Certificate III in Painting and Decorating [from GQA] and are not adequately qualified or competent,” said Daniel Wurm, managing director of (NIPD).

“It is a requirement that all painters who do a Certificate III in Painting are trained to identify and handle asbestos and lead paint, both of which are toxic and hazardous to the community.”

Mr Wurm said he had spoken with one painter on a 457 working visa who was granted recognition of prior learning, despite having limited experience.

“He had received no training and did not even know what lead paint was, or how to identify asbestos,” he said.

“This is a tremendous risk…how many painters got their certificates this way?” 

In a telephone call to Get Qualified, Mr Wurm inquired about whether he could obtain a Certificate III in Painting and Decorating, if he had no prior experience with lead paint or asbestos and “did not know” what they were.

Mr Wurm said he was told it would be no issue that he had not “dealt with lead paint” and that he would just need to “do a bit of online research…[to] get a bit of knowledge”.

A Get Qualified spokesman said it was seeking a review of its deregistration in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and did not wish to “comment publicly on matters which may come before the Tribunal.”

Get Qualified and its sole director Adam Wadi will next week appear in the Federal Court in an action brought by the  Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over alleged misleading and unconscionable conduct.

Mr Wurm said he was most concerned for tradespeople “who think they are qualified…if they haven’t been trained to identify asbestos, imagine what it’s doing to them.”

He said questionable qualifications would only increase the number of unskilled painters working in the industry, a figure he believes has grown since the NSW government relaxed painting licensing laws in 2015.

The changes, which industry bodies have criticised, removed licensing requirements for painting work on home interiors, including work under $5000.

It prompted a coalition between the peak bodies representing employers, contractors, trainers and accredited colleges in the industry; who said they had no say in the decision.

“We didn’t know they were going to make those changes, we were not consulted,” said Therese Lauriola, chief executive of the Master Painters Association NSW.

“There is a significant risk in having unlicensed painters working on properties that contain lead and asbestos. They think they can just sand it, drill it, cut it, because they have not had the training.”

Ms Lauriola said the association was equally concerned about registered training organisations issuing unwarranted qualifications.

“We call it ‘ticking and flicking’, those organisations who are giving people qualifications they really shouldn’t have,” she said. “It’s disastrous for the industry. People think they are getting qualified painters and in some instances they are not.”

Ms Lauriola suggested an additional “continuing professional development” course for painters, which could ensure they were qualified in all requisite areas.

A spokesman for the NSW Fair Trading said the Master Painters Association, and others, were given a lengthy period in which to contribute to the consultation process, however “no concerns were raised”.

“The reforms are intended to remove red tape that may unnecessarily stifle innovation and competition,” he said.

In the 12 months from January 2014, a total of 184 complaints were received about painting and decorating services generally.

Since January 2015 Fair Trading has received 113 complaints about painting and decorating work under the $5000 threshold. Interact with us on Facebook – Savvy ConsumerLatest consumer news

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