to meet PCBU compliance requirements.
The new Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 ("HSWA") introduces the term "Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking " or "PCBU". A PCBU has the main duty under the Act and it is clear that a Body Corporate will be deemed to be a PCBU and will therefore have a number of specific duties under the Act.
Any "Officer" of a PCBU has a specific duty of due diligence to ensure that their PCBU is complying with its duties under the HSWA. An "Officer" is anyone who occupies a position which is comparable to that of a director of a company and anyone who is able to exercise significant control over the management of the PCBU. It is therefore likely that each Body Corporate Committee Member including the Body Corporate Chair Person will be considered an Officer under the HSWA.
There are significant fines which apply to each of the Body Corporate and its Officers if they do not comply with their obligations under the HSWA.
SiteConnect simplifies compliance and communicates essential health & safety messaging of risks and hazards associated with your body corporate property.
Your contractor community is required to use the SiteConnect application and through the use of advanced geo-fencing and mobile device technology, are made aware of these risks and hazards and are required to acknowledge their understanding and exposure to them.
Access and acknowledgements are time and date stamped and are recorded in the SiteConnect application for reporting at a later date.
SiteConnect works for body corporate managers because it is easy to use, low cost, simple to deploy and can give you valuable information about who is coming to your building, the time they spent on your property and when they left.
Reasonably Practicable Steps only
The duties of a Body Corporate as a PCBU are qualified by the concept of “reasonably practicable” in relation to addressing health and safety matters. This means that the actual influence and control which the Body Corporate could reasonably be expected to have in relation to any matter where there are health and safety risks is taken into account. Other factors which are taken into account in determining whether reasonably practicable steps have been take are:
- the likelihood of the hazard or risk occurring
- the degree of harm which may result from the hazard or risk
- what the PCBU knows or should know about the hazard or risk and ways of eliminating or minimising it
- the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate the hazard or risk
- the costs associated with eliminating or minimising the risk (but note that this is only one factor which is taken into account)
What are the actual duties a Body Corporate has under the HSWA as a PCBU?
A Body Corporate must take reasonably practical steps to ensure the health and safety of any individual who does work for them, for example; contractors and subcontractors and any person likely to be affected by the work carried out by the Body Corporate.
Where any work is done in or in respect of any area under the control or management of the Body Corporate (for example; the Common Property) it must ensure so far as reasonably practicable, that the area, and the means of getting in and out of the area are without risks to the health and safety of any person.
A Body Corporate must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that any plant, fixtures and fittings which are used in a workplace and are under the control or management of the Body Corporate are without risks to the health and safety of any person – examples could include lifts, car lifts, escalators, air conditioning and heating systems.
When commissioning any works to the unit title development or any plant located in the development (for example; weather tightness repairs) the Body Corporate must ensure, so far as is reasonably practical, that the way the works are done is without risks to the health and safety of any person:
- involved in the construction or installation;
- who will use the plant or structure or conduct any activity in relation to it;
- at or near a workplace whose health and safety is likely to be affected.
What duties do Body Corporate Members have?
Members now have an ongoing duty of due diligence to ensure that the Body Corporate is complying with its duties under the HSWA. The Act provides that the duty of due diligence involves:
- acquiring and keeping up to date knowledge of work health and safety
- gaining an understanding of the business of the PCBU and its associated hazards and risks
- ensuring and verifying that the PCBU has appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks
- ensuring and verifying that the PCBU has appropriate processes for receiving and considering information regarding incidents, hazards and risks and for responding in a timely way
- ensuring and verifying that the PCBU has and implements processes for complying with its duties under the Act
What steps should Body Corporate Members take to make sure the Body Corporate is complying with its duties under the HSWA?
If you are considered to be an "Officer" under the Act you should familiarise yourself with the HSWA and understand exactly what duties the Body Corporate has as a "PCBU". You should also understand what you need to do to comply with your duty of due diligence under the HSWA. If you don’t believe you can comply will your duty of due diligence then you should seriously consider whether you should remain as a Member.