Occupational Health & Safety Reports
When common property is deemed a worksite, it is a requirement of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (Vic) 2004, Section 26 that “A person who (whether an owner or otherwise i.e. Owner Corporation) has to any extent, the management or control of a workplace, must ensure that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it are safe and without risks to health.”
Furthermore, an Owners Corporation under its functions has a duty to repair and maintain the common property, to fulfil its function and ensure it is free from hazards.
Under common law, an Owner’s Corporation has a duty of care and must take reasonable heed to ensure that anyone, including owner’s, tenants, visitors and even trespassers who come onto the premises are not injured.
Regardless of the type and nature of your common property having a safety assessment carried out in relation to repairs and maintenance or Occupational Health and safety will allow the Owners Corportion to fulfil its duties to identify potential hazards and ensure that reasonable control measures are implemented to eliminate or reduce those hazards.
Although the thought of safety reports and repairs can be seen as an unnecessary burden, it is a small price to pay for an assessment that will minimise the direct and indirect costs associated should an incident resulting in injury occur.
While many people use the threat of fines and jail terms under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to promote the need for safety, the reality is that there are far more compelling reasons to ensure that compliance is met, and that is take reasonable steps to ensure that no-one is injured on your common property.
- Ensure that reasonable steps have been taken to identify any potential hazards
- Implement control measures to eliminate or reduce those hazards
- A qualified assessment without bias
- A Safety Report is recommended to be conducted on all sites you manage
- The size, complexity and functions of your properties will vary, each with different kinds of risks so it is unknown what hazards may be present until an inspection is undertaken
- It is recommended that considerations be made for annual inspections, its also important to ensure that owners, tenants and managing agents have a system where continual monitoring of the common property and reporting of incidents or near misses is managed and reviewed.
- External grounds, parking, driveways, pathways
- Buildings, internal hallways, stairwells, balustrades, access & egress
- Emergency procedures, including Essential Safety Measures and Evacuation diagrams where applicable
- Services and amenities, swimming pools, gymnasiums, plant rooms, waste rooms, toilets, kitchens, electrical, plumbing etc
- Hazardous materials, storage of combustibles and flammables, asbestos
- Working at Heights
- Security issues
- A general safety reports does not always cover all areas in depth and additional investigations may be required.
An unmaintained common property may result in significant risks to health and cause injury.
We aim to take the complexity out of your responsibilities by distinguishing any foreseeable hazards arising from your premises, that may cause harm to any person accessing, using or egressing as required by occupational health and safety legislation and duty of care. Our pragmatic assessment offers practical solutions that will achieve optimal outcomes for all stakeholders.
Our inspectors will perform a thorough site inspection and assessment of your common property. The assessment is then compiled into an easy to read report along with photographic evidence, related commentary and recommendations for each item noted.
Our general procedure is to:
- Inspect the common property
- Compile a report that clearly identifies safety hazards identified within your common areas
- Assess the risk level associated with those hazards
- Provide appropriate recommendations to manage the risk
- Comment on the required maintenance or rectification works required to eliminate the hazards
Under the relevant state strata legislation, the OC is responsible for maintaining and repairing the common property. This includes ensuring that the common property is safe and does not pose any hazards to residents, visitors or service providers etc. Specifically, in Victoria it is a requirement of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (Vic) 2004, Section 26 that “A person who has to any extent, the management or control of a workplace [i.e. Owners Corporation], must ensure that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it are safe and without risks to health.”
Having a safety inspection conducted and report provided by a professional service provider enables the Owners Corporation to keep abreast of the general safety situation at the property and prioritize and respond to identified hazards and thereby more effectively fulfil its legal obligations and duty of care.
The Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 has been implemented to promote and improve standards for occupational health and safety. In certain circumstances the Owners Corporation are deemed the employer and are required to ensure that adequate facilities are in place and the common property workplace is free from hazards. Furthermore, under common law an Owners Corporation has a duty of care to take reasonable steps to identify and eliminate hazards, ensuring that people (owners, tenants, visitors) who access and egress the site are not injured.
There is no legislative requirement in regards to how often an Occupational Health & Safety report must be done. However, as per the Owners Corporations duty of care the recommended frequency will depend on the type and nature of the development as well as the history of identified hazards at the property.
If the previous report has highlighted a number of moderate or high-risk items, the Committee may want to arrange a follow up inspection within 1 year. Whereas if it was mostly maintenance/monitoring type items a follow up inspection at 2-3 years may suffice. For commercial properties, large residential apartment buildings or developments with amenities such as pools and gymnasiums more frequent (i.e. annual) inspections would be appropriate.
If you provide us the details of the specific property we can have a look at when it was last inspected, what the status is and what our specific recommendations would be.
The Owners Corporation has a legal duty of care to ensure the health and safety of all people who use the common property, and failure to address OHS issues can result in penalties and liability. The Owners Corporation should take reasonably prompt and effective action to rectify any OHS hazards identified in the report considering the nature issue and level of risk in question. Interim risk controls can often be implemented if immediate resolution cannot be achieved.
There is generally no mandatory requirement to retrofit buildings in relation to balustrades to meet current standards (unless a building order/notice has been issued). Our reports will most often make a recommendation to upgrade balustrades as a measure to improve safety. However, in some cases balustrades can deviate from current standards to a significantly and consequently large extent and present (irrespective if compliant or not) fall hazards, in which case it is highly recommended that they be modified/upgraded or replaced to meet current standards and eliminate or reduce hazards.
Working at heights is a safety consideration in areas where there is a fall risk from heights greater than 2 meters. As most properties have roofs where works may be conducted, we generally make recommendations concerning working at heights. Generally, the control of risk for such works will be managed by the contractor.
For the Owners Corporation’s part we suggest that they confirm with the relevant trades people or company that they have appropriate safety procedures and competence in working safely at heights. Advising the contractor of any known additional hazards with regards to working at heights is also be advised (e.g. if there are any damaged, fragile, unstable, or slippery surfaces on the roofs and the presence or absence of access and safety systems) to fulfill duty of care and to assist contractors in conducting their job safety analysis. Your contractors should be familiar with the OHS regulations and the relevant Worksafe guides and codes pertaining to the prevention of falls. Where working at heights systems are installed, the Owners Corporation is responsible for ensuring they are maintained and ensuring access to the roofs is appropriately restricted to authorised persons. If concerns arise regarding safety at heights, the Owners Corporation may consult a working at heights systems installer for more specific advice and potential improvements suitable for the property in question.
Mabi Services does not perform rectification works or any modification works on properties. However, some recommendations in our OHS reports such as obtaining Annual Essential Safety Measures Reports and Asbestos Inspections can be completed by Mabi Services. It is recommended that Strata Managers engage their preferred contractors or source suitably qualified contractors to conduct all works.
Mabi Services has a duty of care to report on potential safety hazards that we observe during our inspections. Sometimes these hazards may originate on private property. The use or misuse of private areas such as balconies and parking spaces can impact residents, contractors, and visitors under certain circumstances and Mabi Services may comment on such situations especially if there may be Owners Corporation Rules pertaining to the issue (e.g. such as excess storage on parking spaces or items overhanging balconies).
Each chemical product has a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that will outline the safety considerations and storage requirements for the product. The Owners Corporation should obtain the MSDSs of all items and ensure they are stored accordingly.
Owners Corporations that also manage areas with facilities such as those mentioned above, should consider having annual inspections due to the higher risk to safety. It is important that additional care is taken within these areas including necessary signage is kept current and visible, equipment maintained as per the manufacturers requirements and incident reporting occurs as appropriate.
When a pool or spa is on common property managed by an owners corporation, the owners corporation is responsible for arranging the registration, inspection and certification of the pool or spa barrier. Mabi does not complete Pool Compliance Inspections, however we can assess the area and make comments to improve safety within the area.