Health and Safety
Health and Safety Information for Bodies Corporate
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Frequently Asked Questions
PCBU - what does this mean for the Body Corporate?
Under the Unit Titles Act 2010 (UTA), a body corporate is a PCBU (or person conducting a business or undertaking). PCBU's have duties/obligations 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 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.
The second duty is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace, the means of entering and exiting the workplace, and anything arising from the workplace, are without risks to the health and safety of any person.
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.
Officer - what does this mean for Committee Members?
Committee members are officers and have a duty of due diligence under HSWA. While the body corporate is the PCBU and has the primary duty of care to ensure workplace health and safety, committee members have a duty to make sure the body corporate is doing what it needs to do to ensure the health and safety of workers and others when work is being carried out on the common areas of the property.
Officers themselves don't have the duty to keep people safe - that is the duty of the PCBU (the Body Corporate), but as leaders of the body corporate you should make sure the body corporate is doing the right things to manage risks (so far as is reasonably practicable).
Volunteer officers have a duty of due diligence but cannot be held liable for a failure to meet that duty. Volunteer includes a person who receives out of pocket expenses. Committee members who meet this definition of a volunteer they will not commit an offence under the HSWA or be liable for a failure to meet due diligence.
A committee member receiving an honorarium would probably not meet the definition of a volunteer under the HSWA.
What does "so far as is reasonably practicable" mean?
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.