When it comes to Australian Standards for termite work, are you confident that your reporting is fully compliant? Steve Allen from Report Systems Australia offers some helpful advice.

For some termite managers, compliance with the revised Australian Standard AS 3660.2: 2017, ‘Termite Management in and around Existing Buildings’, will not necessarily be straightforward. The The purpose of this commentary is to help termite managers understand their inspection and reporting obligations and give guidance on how to meet those obligations.

The changes that took effect at the end of 2017 required professional indemnity insurers – most of whom are required to comply with the Standard – to redesign paperwork around the changes. This also meant considering the contractual obligations between the termite manager and their client.

Termite inspections

Now, in addition to the regular termite inspection, AS 3660.2: 2017 sets out the requirements for special purpose inspections which are carried out as part of ongoing works or as a part of termite risk management system maintenance.

In the case of a termite eradication program, a follow-up special purpose inspection report may record evidence of colony collapse.

The use of detection equipment

When performing a regular termite inspection, AS 3660.2: 2017 has introduced the option for the carrying out of ‘Additional Tests’ using specialist non-destructive tools such as a termite radar unit, thermal imaging camera and/or a termite detector animal. The carrying out of Additional Tests is only a recommendation of the Standard. However, when these tests are needed, the use of specialist detection tools is encouraged as it promotes ‘best practice’.

Termite Management Plans

Another change has been the introduction of the Termite Management Plan. As an example, if a regular termite inspection finds evidence of active (live) termites of economic significance, then the termite manager will need to complete a Termite Management Plan. The purpose of a Termite Management Plan is to inform the client about the necessary works and actions that need to be taken. This ensures that there is a shared understanding of the proposed termite management process and its likely outcomes.

Importantly, the Termite Management Plan is not a quotation for work and does not take away the need for a Termite Management Proposal and Agreement to be completed and agreed with the client. The Termite Management Proposal and Agreement sets out the proposed work and the contractual obligations between the parties.

Certificate of Installation

The work associated with the installation of a termite management system, to help manage the risk of concealed subterranean termite access to existing buildings and structures, is now recorded in a Certificate of Installation.

On completion of the termite works, the issuing of a Certificate of Installation and/or special purpose inspection report may trigger any ‘free service period’ agreed to as a part of the Termite Management Proposal and Agreement.

Report writing essentials

To cover the full reporting requirements of termite work associated with existing buildings, the termite manager will need to have access to the following termite paperwork:

  • Pre-Engagement Inspection Agreement
  • Regular Inspection Report
  • Special Purpose Inspection Report
  • Management Plan
  • Management Proposal and Agreement
  • Management Systems Certificate of Installation

Another important aspect of meeting your reporting obligations is to provide the client with a clear and accurate record of the inspection findings. Technology is now helping inspectors meet this requirement with the introduction of the Defect Statement Generator reporting app developed using Report Systems Australia copyrighted inputs.

Inspectors can now complete defect statements from a tailored list of inputs on their iPad (regardless as to whether they are working online with internet coverage or offline without internet coverage). The defect statements are not set in concrete – they can be edited by the inspector. The aim of the Defect Statement Generator is to produce uniform and concise statements, thereby reducing the risk of misunderstandings between the pest manager and the customer.

The Defect Statement Generator is based on the report writing principals: what is it; where is it; what is wrong with it; the recommendation for further investigation or advice (where applicable); and how quickly should any recommendation be implemented.

The following is a sample generated defect statement:

Report module Termite workings and/or damage
Area Subfloor space
Location Below the kitchen
Affected element Floor framing, underside of door
Signs of attack Damaged timbers, mud plastering, shelter tubes
Visible extent Widespread
Recommendation Where evidence of inactive termites is located within the building, it is possible that termites are still active in the concealed or inaccessible areas of the building and damage to building elements also exists. A further more invasive inspection is recommended. For further advice, consult the person who carried out this inspection.Competent advice (e.g. from a licensed building contractor) should be obtained to determine the extent of any structural damage and the need or otherwise for rectification or repair work.
Implementation The above recommendations should be implemented as a matter of urgency
Image comments Example of termite workings and damage in subfloor space below the kitchen

For timber pest inspectors wishing to try out this technology, a free trial of the iPad app can be requested by contacting Report Systems Australia. A full commercial version of the app will be available later in the year.

To help pest managers upskill in their report writing in line with the changes to the Standards, Report Systems Australia has developed the new CPD training course ‘Inspection and Reporting Skills’. This distance education course is an easy and convenient way for inspectors to keep their inspection and reporting skills (AS 3660.2 and AS 4349.3) up to date.

A key objective of this course is to help inspectors better understand how to structure and create accessibility and defect statements from scratch (i.e. starting with a blank sheet of paper). This knowledge can then be practically implemented in the field to complete a report, especially if there are complex issues that need to be brought to the (urgent) attention of the client.

A CPD certificate will be issued to pest managers who successfully complete this course. For further information, contact Report Systems Australia.

In conclusion, meeting your reporting obligations is becoming more complex. However, with the proper use of technology and continued professional development training, the task of compliance can be made significantly easier.

Steve Allen, Report Systems Australia

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