Body Corporate Health & Safety

March 2023

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Health and Safety in Body Corporates

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) came into force in April 2016. When undertaking work on their sites, a Body Corporate, professional property manager or building manager becomes a PCBU - person conducting a business or undertaking.  A PCBU has responsibilities under the HSWA to protect the health and safety of workers and others.

A Body Corporate's primary duty of care is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of everybody involved with or affected by work on the common areas of the property that the Body Corporate organises or is responsible for.

A second duty applies where a Body Corporate manages or controls a workplace. This would occur when it engages someone to look after the building or other common property, even casually. The building and grounds will be a workplace under the HSWA and the Body Corporate will have a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the area and the means of getting in or out of the area, and any common property plant and systems, are without risks to the health and safety of any person.

Why Does the Act Affect Body Corporates?

The Act covers all types of businesses, and a Body Corporate committee, property manager, building manager or owner delegated power at the AGM to arrange certain aspects of maintenance will be considered a PCBU.

The Body Corporate, the Body Corporate manager, the building manager and anyone carrying out work for the Body Corporate can have overlapping duties under the HSWA.

What Does this Mean for Committee Members?

Committee members are officers and have a duty of due diligence under the HSWA. While the Body Corporate is the PCBU and has the primary duty of care to ensure workplace health and safety, the committee members have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the Body Corporate is doing what it needs to do to meet its duty.

What Does ‘So Far As Reasonably Practicable’ Mean?

The HSWA allows you to adapt your health and safety practices according to your level of risk.

It’s about doing what is ‘reasonably practicable’ and proportionate. For the purposes of managing risk, ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ is a balance between what is possible (the highest level of protection) and what is achievable (reasonable in the circumstances).

The Body Corporate and committee members need to consider what is reasonably able to be done in relation to ensuring the health and safety of workers, contractors and others, taking into account and weighing up all factors including:

  • The likelihood of the hazard or risk concerned occurring.
  • The degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk.
  • What the duty holder knows, or should reasonably know, about the hazard or risk, and ways of eliminating or minimising that risk.
  • The availability and suitability of ways to eliminate risk.

Only after assessing the extent of the risk, and the available ways of eliminating the risk, should the committee consider the cost. Consideration of cost should generally only take precedence over safety when it is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

What Action Do Body Corporates Need to Take?

Essentially the Body Corporate should:

  • Carry out a site risk assessment to identify and document site hazards.
  • Eliminate, isolate or establish control measures to minimise hazards.
  • Communicate hazards to anyone working at your property.
  • Maintain, review and where necessary revise control measures.
  • Safeguard people working on site, particularly if they are working alone.
  • Advise Worksafe of any Notifiable Events as soon as possible.

Every time a contractor is sent to the property they should be informed of any Health and Safety risks that are present at the property, such as difficulty of access. They should also be competent and appropriately qualified to do the work.

What are the Penalties for Not Complying?

Should a PCBU or individual fail to meet their obligations under the Act and face prosecution, the maximum penalties are a fine of up to $3 million for a PCBU and a fine of up to $600,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years (or both) for an individual or officer of a PCBU.

How Crockers Can Help

If you haven't already carried out a site risk assessment and would like us to arrange one, or would like any further information on the HSW Act, contact the helpful Crockers' team  at  09 968 3311 or email 

Please Note:  This information is provided as a general introduction only.  It does not constitute legal advice.  For specific advice on this or any other topic, Crockers strongly recommends you consult your legal adviser. 

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