Case StudyCPP WITH KIRSTIN HINE
Complying with Health and Safety Laws for Commercial Buildings
I may be showing my age but I remember a time when Health and Safety was barely even an afterthought when it came to commercial buildings. I strongly believe that Health and Safety regulations are a good thing. I want to know when I send a contractor to work on my clients properties that they are safe. I want to know that my tenants are safe when carrying out their businesses and I also want to know that customers to the premises are safe.
The frustration that I have had when trying to comply with the regulations is that there are no clear guidelines as to what Property Managers and Landlords must do to ensure compliance.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 states:
“…workers and other persons should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety, and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work or from specified types of plant as is reasonably practicable.”
Firstly, I had to consult Miriam Webster to find out what “practicable” meant;
capable of being put into practice or of being done or accomplished : FEASIBLE
Secondly, how do I give persons the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety, and welfare?
I spent well over a year trying to work out the answer to this question. Lucky for you I am going to list my findings as succinctly as possible.
Here is a list of the steps I recommend for Landlords and Property Managers to comply with The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015:
Engage an External Contractor to Take Care of any Aspect of Compliance that you are not qualified to carry out yourself
It is always a good idea to have an external contractor to consult and provide Health and Safety Services. Engaging an independent professional helps you fulfil your obligations under the act and reduces your liability if anything goes wrong.
I use external contractors for the following;
- Roof safety system installation, certification and inductions.
- Contractor Management Systems
- Initial Risk Assessments
- Fire evacuation consulting and trial evacuations
Have a Health and Safety Manual
Include the following;
- Important contact details
- Contractor policies
- Emergency evacuation Plan
- High Risk Works policies
- Contractors induction form
Have a H&S Document for each Property
Include the following;
- A site plan
- Asbestos management plan
- Risk register and risk matrix – There are many companies that can carry out risk assessments for your properties.
- Hazardous substances data sheets, (if applicable)
Minimise Risks as Much as Possible
For example, if the roof if not safe to work on, (risk of falls), install additional roof safety systems like anchors, platforms and ladders. Your risk assessment should also have recommendations to minimise the risks on your property. You should try to implement all of the recommendations that are feasible.
Have a Contractor Management System
Managing when people enter and exit your property has come a long way since the sign in books of the past. It is important to know when your contractors are on site and to make sure they have left safely, but it is certainly not feasible to have someone waiting around with a log book when this happens. We now have sophisticated electronic systems that contractors can access with their mobile phones.
I currently use Forsite to manage contractors for my portfolio. Small sensors, (called “pucks” because they look like hockey pucks), are installed in a central location in your property, and contractors install an app on their smartphones so that they can sign in and check the risk register when they come within a range of the sensor. Forsite also has the benefit of logging them out automatically when they leave the property. This records your contractors time on and off and ensures that they have left safely.
Make sure your contractors, staff and tenants are aware of your policies and what to do in case of an emergency.
Before anyone can carry out works on your property, they should be made aware of the risks on the property. You should also check their credentials or training for high risk works.
Have High Risk Works Policies
If contractors are undertaking high risk works, you need to know they are qualified to carry them out safely and that they have made a plan to carry out the job safely. Most professional companies understand these policies and have no problem complying with your requirements. If they are not able to comply with your policies then I strongly recommend you find a contractor that can.
High Risk Works Policies will include things like the training and equipment required before contractors can work at heights, operate machinery, carry out hot works or work in enclosed spaces. Additional to your policies you also need to request a SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement) or TA (Task Analysis) from your contractor, and review it before authorising the works. This ensures that they have systems in place to safely carry out the works.
Review your Policies
Review your procedures, risk registers and documents annually, or if anything changes. Record revisions in your documents to illustrate that you have taken time to ensure your policies are up to date.
Provide Ongoing Training and Regular Team Meetings for your Staff
Offer relevant training to staff and managers whenever possible.
Make H&S an agenda item at every property management meeting and minute my discussions.
Keep track of near misses or accidents and investigate if necessary. Inform Landlords of any Health and Safety incidents or risks.
It is important to note that Property Managers and Landlords are also responsible for any of the tenants contractors if they are carrying out work in the common areas.
CP Pro Tip: Complying with the Health and Safety Act can seem daunting, but once you have the systems in place it is not too onerous to maintain.
What Penalties are there for Non-Compliance?
Failure to comply with the Health and Safety Act will not only put people at risk but could also result in jail time and fines up to $600,000. Or if you are a company the fine could be up to $3m.
If you want to take the stress out of your Health and Safety Compliance, CPP offers Consultancy services to establish your Health and Safety Systems, and Property Management services to help keep your property compliant.
My initial consultation is always free. Email me to see how I can help.
Kirstin, Director, Commercial Property Professionals
Disclaimer: This advice is intended to help Property Managers and Landlords comply with the Health and Safety Act 2015. More information is available from Worksafe, and I recommend you engage an independent contractor if you are not clear about your obligations.