Health & Safety Responsibilities for Commercial Properties

Who is a PCBU when it comes to Commercial properties? What happens if WorkSafe gets involved over a Health and Safety issue? James Bangerter, Commercial General Manager discusses responsibilities for commercial properties when it comes to Health and Safety regulations.

Health and Safety compliance management is one of the most important tasks in Commercial Property Management for everyone involved because if it’s not done correctly the consequences can be extremely serious. Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 all parties including Landlords, Property Managers, Tenants and Contractors are considered to be PCBUs (Person conducting a business or undertaking) and all have a responsibility to keep one another and other parties safe at all times.

What are the requirements for a PCBU?

Under the Act, a commercial property owner/landlord has a duty of care, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved with or affected by work on or at their property. Those that could be affected include tenants, contractors engaged by them, or members of the public visiting their property.

As Property Managers we at apm share that same responsibility as well as the responsibility for the management and control of the property with the duty to ensure the property (if it’s a workplace) is without risks to health and safety.

Commercial tenants are also PCBUs and they have the same duty of care as other PCBUs, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure the health and safety of their own workers and others.

Contractors visiting commercial buildings must ensure the health and safety of their own workers and others at the property.

WorkSafe Involvement

WorkSafe is the authority that oversees Health and Safety regulations, and the aim of their job is to educate people about their responsibilities and rights as set out in the law. WorkSafe inspectors assess health and safety practices, investigate events (e.g. if there is a fatality or a serious injury in a workplace) and review and resolve health and safety issues (e.g. issues that arise when unsafe work stops).

Inspectors are also employed to enforce the Act which includes taking steps to remedy unsafe situations. If an Inspector reasonably believes laws have been breached, or people face an immediate risk to their health and safety, they will use the following tools:

  • Directive advice – Requires certain directive steps to be followed by the PCBU. These steps will be outlined verbally or in a letter. WorkSafe keeps a record of the advice given in case there is a similar breach in future.
  • Improvement notice – Requires changes to be made by the PCBU to improve a risky situation, within a certain time period.
  • Infringement notice – Requires the responsible party to pay a fine for breaching specified health and safety obligations.
  • Prohibition notice – Requires activities that pose a serious risk to people’s health and safety to be stopped immediately, until the problem is resolved.
  • Non-disturbance notice – Requires a worksite to remain undisturbed for a set amount of time, if a notifiable event has happened (e.g. if a worker has been killed or seriously injured).
  • Remedial action – Requires the responsible party to take remedial actions to make a workplace safe where a prohibition notice has not been reasonably complied with.
  • Enforceable undertaking – This is an alternative to prosecution. When WorkSafe agrees, a person can voluntarily enter into a binding agreement to settle the alleged breach of the Health and Safety law, and remedy the harm caused.
  • Prosecution – WorkSafe may bring a prosecution for breach of Health and Safety laws. If convicted the Court can order the responsible party to pay a fine (these can be as high as $600,000 for an individual and $3 million for a company), complete an order (e.g. publicise the outcome of the prosecution), or impose a term of imprisonment.

At apm it is our main objective to keep all our clients and staff safe from harm and prosecution, therefore we always endeavour to follow the correct policies and procedures to ensure risk is mitigated. We are guided by the Act and therefore not only do we employ an apm Health and Safety Advisor, but we have also engaged a Health and Safety Company – HSE Connect. HSE Connect provides a software app which ensures all tenants and contractors are inducted into each property, a health and safety plan is created for the property (required by law), and the plan is updated yearly. HSE Connect also assists tenants to create their Health and Safety plan if they haven’t already got one in place. For a contractor to be inducted they must supply their insurance details, a Health and Safety policy, and any industry related licences or certifications.

As a property management company, it is apm’s responsibility to make sure all contractors that are sent on site are fully inducted by having the correct certification and insurance for the work they do, as well as working with landlords to make sure any contractors that the landlord sends are also fully inducted so that all parties are kept safe.

Please feel free to contact your Commercial Property Manager if you would like more information on this subject.

You can view a guide about the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 online here:

Kind regards

James Bangerter

General Manager – Commercial Property

Feel free to contact our Commercial Team via the contact form below.