The Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)(“the Act”) is now well and truly up and running having taken effect on the 1st of January 2012.
At its commencement there was uncertainty and concern over how the act would affect a body corporate and its committee. It is very clear that in certain circumstances the Act will apply to all members of a Body Corporate.
Whether or not the Act applies depends on whether the Body Corporate can be classed as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU).
Section 7 of the Work Health and Safety regulations 2011 exclude a strata titled Body Corporate from the Act who is solely responsible for premises for residential purposes unless the Body Corporate engages a worker as an employee. The Act does however go on to state that the Body Corporate will be classified as a PCBU regardless of whether it is Body Corporate for residential premises if it engages a worker. A worker is defined as an employee, a contractor or subcontractor and even a volunteer. On this basis any Body Corporate that engages somebody to undertake work within the scheme will be classed as a PCBU and the provisions of the Act will apply. The Body Corporate will owe a duty to workers:
1. To provide a work environment without risk to health and safety,
2. To provide safe plant and structures,
3. To provide safe systems of work,
4. To provide safe use handling storage and transport of plant, structure and substances,
5. To provide adequate facilities for the welfare of workers,
6. To provide information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect persons from risk to health and safety arising from work,
7. To monitor the health of workers and conditions at the workplace.
The Act requires a PCBU to eliminate risks to health and safety so far as reasonably practicable. To do this the Body Corporate must identify the relevant factors including:
1. The likelihood of a hazard of risk occurring,
2. The degree of harm that would result if the hazard of risk occurred,
3. What the person concerned knows or ought to reasonably know about the hazard of risk and ways eliminating or minimising it,
4. The availability of suitable ways to eliminate or minimise the hazard of risk.
The penalties under the Act can be quite severe for a breach including monetary fines of up to $3,000,000.00.
Based in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast Miller Sockhill Lawyers are able to assist Bodies Corporate by ensuring policies and procedures within a scheme comply with the Act, reviewing by-laws to ensure that they assist with compliance of the act and providing general advice with respect to a Body Corporate’s obligation under the Act.