17 Nov 16

New Health & Safety Laws Affect Your Body Corporate Risks

Article supplied by Solutions in Engineering

All Bodies Corporate have a duty of care to everyone who lives in, visits or works in the common areas of your building. The new WH&S laws have multiplied your risk by adding to your existing obligations. You can mitigate a lot of your risk with a few simple decisions. Here’s all you need to know…….


Why is there new legislation?

In response to the Pike River mine tragedy, the government has passed the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. The legislation is based upon the Australian Work Health and Safety Acts, which have managed to reduce workplace deaths in Australia by 16%. New Zealand will likely see a similar reduction. The Australian branch of Solutions in Engineering have been working with the Australian legislation since its inception, and so can offer you some insight into what’s required.


How do Bodies Corporate fit in?

A PCBU, or Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking, is the umbrella term for bodies that must comply with the Act. While stand-alone residential houses are exempt, residential Bodies Corporate will have obligations, in almost all situations, in respect of the common property. If any work is undertaken on the common property, or if any of the occupiers undertake a home business, the Body Corporate must comply with the act.


What is the main change?

A PCBU is obliged under Section 36 of the new Act to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all workers and persons on the property. This requires Bodies Corporate to be proactive and take a broad view of compliance. It is no longer sufficient to assume that because no injury has occurred, you are safe.


Where are the risks for the Body Corporate?

Most serious work completed in the common areas will involve contractors. Consequently there are two main focuses for Bodies Corporate:-

  1. The common property environment in which work is conducted can cause accidents if risks are not assessed and removed or mitigated.
  2. The way in which a contractor completes tasks can cause risk to others and to themselves and therefore only quality contractors with appropriate WH&S systems should be used.


How can these risks be effectively dealt with?

  1. Risks on the common property are best dealt with by engaging a suitably experienced WH&S professional to assess risks and recommend easy-to-implement actions to remove or mitigate the risk. Re-assess annually.
  2. All contractors should be vetted for:-
  • Appropriate licensing
  • Appropriate insurance
  • Evidence of WH&S systems for all typical work activities

The days of using handymen who work out the back of a ute without insurance, wearing jandals and going to the pub for a liquid lunch are over.


The above is just brief summary for more information see below…….


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