Is there any wonder strata managers are struggling to get executive committees on-board with work health and safety?
Just look at the websites for Safe Work Australia and its hard to find a direct answer about their application to the 2 million strata titled properties in this country affecting about one in four Australians.
In an effort to make it look as if residential strata owners are not being discriminated against compared to house owners the government material starts with this; ‘Do residential strata schemes have to comply with WHS’ Answer. ‘NO’. At this point the residential apartment owners would be excused form reading on and retreat to something more pleasant like pulling your fingernails off without anesthetic. But alas, for the more patient website readers, it turns out the laws really do apply if you ever have anyone come on to common property to do work. And read on further, even if the owners did this work themselves, for free, you still need to comply. So why not just answer the question truthfully, ‘The WHS applies to residential strata when work is being done on common property.’
These new laws are complex. The duties are intended to apply to multiple persons simultaneously. The key word is ‘work’ not ‘workplace’ and the duty applies to all people not just ‘workers’. There is a new focus on proactivity and committees are required to exercise due diligence at all times, not just when there is an incident or an investigation. This is about doing the right thing and being seen to do the right thing. The fines and penalties are potentially huge and there is no directors and officers insurance cover.
This is a time and an issue that deserves some plain talking. This is what the Judges are going to expect when someone has to go to jail for a death on common property.