Landlords must adapt to Work Health and Safety Laws

Published 23 May 2013

Landlords and property managers of both commercial and residential premises should be aware of the potential for an increased range of liabilities and a broader coverage of persons at risk pursuant to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act) which commenced on 1 January 2012. The WHS Act increases both the scope and content of responsibility burden and it enlarges the group of persons who are to be protected. The maximum penalties have also been significantly increased.

The WHS Act also emphasises people taking steps that are within their control to reduce risks in the workplace. This may be as simple as telling contractors not to access an area altogether until safe access has been put in place and ensuring the task can be done safely. Landlords now have a legislative requirement to ensure that their management firm has effective control measures in place for their property and tenants. A landlord should be able demonstrate that they have exercised due diligence and reasonable care in establishing this fact.

The WHS Act also imposes a duty to communicate, consult and co-operate. If more than one person has a duty in respect to the same matter under the WHS Act, each person with the duty must , so far as is reasonably practicable, endeavour to consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities with all other persons who have a duty in relation to the same matter. Landlords, tenants, the site foreperson or the manager of an enterprise or the building manager must co-operate to ensure the WHS responsibilities towards workers and 'other persons' are undertaken appropriately and adequately.

For more information, please contact Maclarens Lawyers on 96823777.