3 things you can do to improve the safety of your strata property during COVID-19 outbreaks

With more people working from home and perhaps isolating in your strata property during COVID-19 outbreaks, safety and compliance is now even more of a priority

Maintaining your strata property according to set compliance standards is a legal requirement, even during the COVID-19’s health crisis. Responsibilities to maintain your property should not be neglected. The government has not relaxed the legislative requirements for the maintenance of your strata property during COVID-19, so it’s important to ensure safety and compliance.Committees and owners should be engaging contractors to check and ensure strata compliance during COVID-19 to help promote health and safety in their strata property. Here are three recommendations for maintaining or improving the safety of your strata property during COVID-19 outbreaks and beyond:

  1. Conduct annual fire safety checks and check service equipment
  2. Have common areas serviced
  3. Develop guidelines for visiting contractors

Conduct annual fire safety checks and check service equipment

Increased levels of working and schooling from home in your strata property during COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns make fire safety inspections more important than ever. Ensure all your fire safety measures meet regulations and that your building is fire compliant.

Annual fire safety certifications are a statutory requirement that verifies your property according to its building class, making sure that it meets a range of required fire safety measures. The measures include smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, fire doors, reels and hydrants, emergency lighting and signs, and evacuation plans and paths. Importantly, the certification also checks that these measures are in working order and are not obstructed.

With various names across states, fire safety certificates are known as the Annual Fire Safety Statement in New South Wales, the Annual Occupier’s Statement in Queensland, and the Annual Essential Safety Measures Report in Victoria.

Failure to comply with legislation or to submit annual fire safety certification reports on time may result in fines issued by local authorities, restrictions in premises use, and the issuing of fire orders.

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Have common areas serviced

It’s extra important to maintain the cleanliness of your strata property during COVID-19 outbreaks. This means common areas should be serviced and maintained as per usual and perhaps cleaned more often if possible.

Government health orders and COVID-19 restrictions may require changes to the way common areas are used.

Social distancing requirements extend to lift usage for residents and when contractors are on-site on your strata property during COVID-19 outbreaks. Lift servicing should continue as per the contracted maintenance schedule and actions should be taken to keep lifts functioning and safe

Government guidelines and the Strata Community Association (SCA) may recommend or mandate the closure of common property swimming pools and gym facilities on your strata property during COVID-19 outbreaks. However, regular cleaning and maintenance for pool water and pumps should continue, to look after the pool and its equipment. Regular cleaning of gym facilities may continue as normal, while the maintenance schedule for gym equipment can be deferred until just before restrictions are lifted.

While it is not confirmed whether COVID-10 can spread through air conditioning systems, properties may be able to reduce risk via improved air quality with ventilation and filtration. The government recommends buildings adjust air conditioning systems to generate more ventilation and to open windows where possible. Consequently, a lack of air conditioning maintenance could present as an added health risk. All standard and legislative inspections and maintenance checks should continue as normal.

Develop guidelines for visiting contractors

Committees may need to revisit and possibly review contractor and visitor procedures to ensure everyone’s safety in your strata property during COVID-19 outbreaks.

Contractors should:

  • Be briefed on social distancing measures. Contractors should be informed on social distancing protocols before visiting the property
  • Regularly sanitise hands and ask them to disinfect door handles and other surfaces they come into contact with after they have completed their work
  • Prepare Safe Work Method Statement, which includes additional processes such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and social distancing measures
  • Bring their own pens if any signatures are required
  • Disinfect equipment before it is brought on-site
  • Use electronic means for sharing images and submit invoices via email, upon completion of a job
  • Practise social distancing in common areas and display signs or section-off areas where they expect to be working.

If you have concerns about how your property is managing strata compliance requirements during COVID-19—or, on an ongoing basis—please talk to your manager.To access our full range of strata resources or to stay up to date on regular updates, sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter. For a consultation to review your by-laws, our Kemps Petersons Legal team is at your service to assist. Or, one of our team members can assist you with a free assessment – it’s free and carries no obligation.