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David Solomon

Our birthday Standards Heroes have been nominated by their peers to represent all our contributors - individuals we consider to be the real heroes of standards, in Australia and internationally. We thank those who contribute their knowledge and expertise, service, and time to Standards Australia for the benefit of the Australian community.  

David Solomon has worked in the Building & Construction Industry for over 32 years. He is the Master Builders Association of NSW Executive Officer Technical, Safety & Risk.  

How did you become involved in standards development? 

I was talking to my friend Matthew Allport (who later became a successful Standards Australia NEXTgen Leader) about a white paper on a proposed new international Standard for Safety titled ISO 45001.  

I raised this exciting new topic with our Master Builders Australia National IR/Safety Director who said, “well it sounds like you are better versed that me, so why don’t you replace me on the Australian committee and represent Master Builders Australia on all things OH&S”. At my first meeting in October 2014, I was identified as the “new blood” by the then Chairman Dr. Dennis Else coming through the ranks and so it was minuted. After receiving open and ongoing support from the committee members and personal mentoring from Dennis and the late Stan Rodgers, eight or so years later, their vision and planning came to fruition, now filling the role of SF-001 Chairman, a role I cherish and feel honoured to hold.  

What role have standards played in your career?   

Standards play a vital role in my career. Standards development and committee involvement provides an excellent platform to compare your own level of skills knowledge and competence against your peers for any given discipline, safety, scaffolding, quality etc. Standards provide a rule book for industry, parameters if you like, tolerances permitting you to operate within to achieve compliance.

I sit on several construction and work safety technical committees for Standards Australia. Through my experience with standards development, I have been able to further my own knowledge sometimes by simply throwing myself in the deep end, challenging myself if you like? This affords me the opportunity promote Standards by nominating a few of my staff to represent Master Builders Australia in their respective areas of expertise, such as electrical and concrete elements.

In January 2015 I was nominated and endorsed by the Australian committee to represent Standards Australia at the third meeting of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) project committee meeting held at Port of Spain, Trinidad Tobago. A total of 60 delegates from 22 countries participated in the review of a Committee Draft (CD), the precursor to the International Standard ISO 45001. From that point on I was subsequently asked to be the secretary for ISO PC283 TG5 for Terms and Definitions, later promoted as the deputy task group leader. Holding other roles such as part of the ISO 45001 editorial group. Accepting these roles when asked only seems logical to me as it broadens my exposure to other international standards experts, learning about the way they work and the sharing of ideas. After being nominated and endorsed by SF-001 a few more times, resulting in attending a further dozen or so international meetings, providing me with the wherewithal to be considered for other positions including ISO TC283 Australasian and Oceania Representative, Head of the Australian Delegation and a member of the ISO TC283 Chair’s Advisory Group. Sure, these roles attract other responsibilities and a lot of detailed report writing, but without the additional workload I believe opportunities do not appear out of thin air. It is my second year as the Co-Convenor TC283 WG4 in the development of ISO 45004 OH&S Performance Evaluation, this project is exciting, the first of its kind and will be a game changer when it is published. Shifting the focus from lost time injuries and measuring an entities OH&S performance has to have beneficial outcomes.  

Sitting on a few Standards Australia committees also affords me the opportunity to write about them and I’m now a regular contributor to the Australian Construction Law Newsletter, which in turn opens another door to promote the importance of standards more broadly, on any given topic.

Having the opportunity to represent your industry at a national level is something to cherish, representing Standards Australia internationally is certainly an opportunity I continue to be truly grateful for.  

What is a project you’ve been particularly proud to have helped deliver? 

Being part of an international Project Committee e.g., ISO PC283 45001 afforded me the opportunity to work with people from all over the world and feel it a honour privilege to work with wonderful standards likeminded people and seeing it through to publication, was only the first leg. Then there’s the national identical adoption.

Initiating the development of AS/NZS 1576.7 Scaffolding Part 7: Safe use of encapsulation on scaffolding, after the third shade cloth fire in the Sydney CBD, noting that in the Building and Construction Industry we did not have a standard on shade cloth that reflected the Australian climate or landscape. Being part of this project where this document specifies requirements and test methods for encapsulation and containment products for attachment to scaffolding to provide products that are suitable for the intended application including fire hazard properties, strength properties and fixing requirements, was a pleasure to be part of a solution and bringing all the interested parties together in the one room to nut it all out, was definitely a highlight.

Outside of standards development, what have been some highlights of your career? 

Being internationally recognised as an international distinction recipient in 2015 and 2016 for my efforts in increasing safety awareness by ISQEM. Winning the SafeWork NSW 2021 Award for the Associations category.  

Providing accurate advice to our members. Defending a member who was being coerced into an unfair contractual agreement and providing them specific excerpts from AS 4386:2018 [Current] Cabinetry in the built-in environment — Commercial and domestic, proving the acceptable bench heights were indeed correct and having the decision against our member overturned.  

Being invited to be the first and current Chairman of PwC’s external advisory committee for their Certification Accreditation Body and being associated with one of the worlds most recognised brands definitely has to be a highlight.

Ongoing, representing the Building and Construction Industry for Master Builders Association of NSW is still a wonderful place to work and sitting on numerous committees keeps my role contemporary and lastly putting my skills and knowledge to good use, for others to benefit, delivers a healthy level of satisfaction.

Is there anything you’d like to say or mention about Standards Australia’s centenary year? 

I am a massive supporter of Standards Australia and am fortunate that my employer, Master Builders Association of NSW and Master Builders Australia support the time and effort that goes into an actual standard from inception to publication and the great importance and influence they have on all industry. If there is a position, a rule or a standard clearly articulated in black and white that is in an established document form, that is exactly what industry cries out for and continue to refer to Standards Australia as the recognised pillar of authority in this space.

I hope to see more mentoring programs fostering the newcomers through to expert status and hopefully propelling them to become standards leaders to continue the bastion of standards development for a long time to come as the brand Standards Australia is one that continues to be reckoned with.