Contributed article

If you don't know this, you're at risk!

18 April 2018

By Shane Foley, Director of BIV Reports

There are laws which place duties on property managers and owners in relation to asbestos which if breached can incur penalties of up to $3 million for body corporates.

If you suspect the presence of asbestos it would be prudent to obtain an Asbestos Register and Asbestos Management Plan for any investment property. 

Asbestos can be a deadly material and the property manager and property owner have a duty of care to ensure it doesn’t cause harm to anyone. See more below.

Currently the NSW Court look at the principles contained within the Civil Liability Act 2002 (section 5B) when considering duty of care in relation to asbestos.

This includes:

if the risk was foreseeable
if a reasonable person would have taken precautions against that risk after considering the probability and the likely seriousness of harm
if it’s reasonably practicable and the financial burden of the precautions, amongst other considerations.  

Property manager’s plan of action 

To ensure you stay compliant it is important have a plan of action. Property managers should:

1. Assess high risk asbestos properties in your portfolio  
2. Send the attached letter to your owners (landlord ASB letter) and keep records for risk transference
3. Upon the acceptance of the advice contained in the letter by your owner, order an Asbestos Register from BIV.
4. Provide the Register in PDF form to the owner, the tenant and all workers instructed to attend that site, and freely share the information to prevent a life-threatening activity from occurring.

The Work Health and Safety (WH&S) legislative requirements

The WH&S Act 2011 and the WH&S Regulation 2011 places significant duties, obligations and responsibilities on any person in the management or control of a workplace. This includes a residence when a worker is on site to ensure it’s free from risks. 

The wording under section 20(2) says ‘the person with management or control of a workplace must 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’. 

Breaking the law can cost $3 million

The maximum fine for breaking the law is $3 million for a corporation and $1.2 million for an individual. Owners of property managed by a property manager still have a duty of care to the tenant, workers and contractors, as well as ‘other persons’.

Furthermore part 8.3 of the WH&S Regulation 2011, including Regulation 421 to 430, describes the management of asbestos and associated risks. In particular 422(1) says ‘a person with management or control of a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all asbestos or asbestos containing materials at the workplace is identified by a competent person’. The penalty for a corporation is $30,000 and $6,000 for an individual.

In addition to your common law duty of care, there is a specific duty of care under section 19 (Primary Duty of Care) of the WH&S Act 2011.

BIV Reports adopt a practical and cost-effective approach to asbestos and WH&S compliance requirements. We can inspect, identify and provide either a loose-fill Asbestos Report, an Asbestos Register or an Asbestos Management Plan from $330 including GST. 

For more information contact me or Wal Dobrow at any time on 9114 9800 or 0412 039 189 or visit