It is the responsibility of building owners and strata companies to guarantee the safety of the shared property, creating a secure space for workers (including those performing maintenance or repairs), tenants, owners, and any visitors from the public.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA), a strata company is often likely to be a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) with specific responsibilities to ensure the safety of the strata building. Where the strata company may not be a PCBU, a strata management firm will always be a said PCBU.

Section 19 indicates that “a person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of –

  1. workers engaged, or caused to be engaged, by the person; and (CoO or Strata manager)
  2. workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the person, (CoO or Strata manager)

while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking”.

It is imperative that strata companies and managers engage a qualified and experienced company, such as Solutions in Engineering, to ensure compliance with the relevant work health and safety regulations, and the applicable Australian Standards. To show that as a manager and as a Council of Owners you have fulfilled your duties under the WHS Act, each of your strata schemes should be getting a safety report completed each year!

All buildings constructed prior to 31 December 2003 MUST comply with asbestos duties imposed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 or the Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations 2022 or their duty of care. Up until 2004, asbestos was widely used in construction and many secondary building products. Failing to identify asbestos on common property within a strata scheme is grossly negligent and will likely have insurance implications and civil penalties should a worker, owner or visitor be unjustifiably exposed to the product.

Under the Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations 2022 (WA), “a person conducting a business or undertaking must not carry out, or direct or allow a worker to carry out, work if it involves asbestos” (S 419(1)).

The Regulations also indicate that a PCBU must ensure that all asbestos or asbestos-containing materials at the workplace is identified by a competent person (s 422(1)).

The PCBU must also ensure that an asbestos register is prepared and kept at the workplace (s 425(1)). A fine of $21,000 will be imposed on the entity for breach of this duty.

Section 429 of the Regulations also indicates that an asbestos management plan must be implemented, with a fine of $35,000 for the entity for failure to comply. Section 430 indicates that the asbestos management plan must be reviewed at least every 5 years. A fine of $21,000 will be imposed if the asbestos management plan is not reviewed as necessary.

While legislation stipulates that asbestos must be re-inspected every 5 years, Solutions in Engineering suggests that asbestos is monitored more frequently.

A 10-year maintenance plan is imperative for a strata company (under section 100 of the Strata Titles Act WA) as it sets out the total maintenance costs for each year over a 10-year period. Solutions in Engineering 10-year Maintenance Plans provide a high-level indication of future works required by the strata company, recommended levies and a proposed maintenance budget for each year of the plan. Solutions in Engineering has been completing maintenance plans across Australia for nearly 30 years, servicing over 160,000 buildings.

As the construction industry is constantly facing turbulence in Australia, it is critical that a 10-year Maintenance Plan is in place to ensure inflation in construction costs is accounted for and materials are available when work is due to commence.

By following a 10-year maintenance plan, body corporates can avoid legal issues because there have been many cases where body corporate budgets fall short of the required maintenance, which leaves the owners in financial hardship.