COVID-19: maintaining compliance
With more people working from home and self-isolating, the need for properties to be safe and compliant remains a priority. Maintaining your property according to set compliance standards is a legal requirement. Responsibilities to maintain your property should not be neglected. The government has not relaxed the legislative requirements around property maintenance because of COVID-19.
Committees and owners should be engaging contractors to check and ensure compliance, health, and safety on their property:
Conduct the Annual Fire Safety Statement and check service equipment
Mass increases in working and schooling from home makes 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 verify 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.
For more information, visit:
Common area servicing
While new COVID-19 requirements are in place, so too are the standard repair and maintenance requirements of common property. As always, these remain the joint responsibility of all owners.
Under the current COVID-19 circumstances, changes to the use of common areas that owners and committees should be aware of include:
- That social distancing requirements extend to lift usage for residents and when contractors are on-site. Lift servicing should continue as per the contracted maintenance schedule and actions should be taken to keep lifts functioning and safe.
- That government guidelines and the Strata Community Association (SCA) require the closure of common property swimming pools and gym facilities across New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. However, regular cleaning and maintenance for pool water and pumps should continue to be maintained 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 the current restrictions are lifted.
- While it is still too early for scientists and doctors to know if COVID-19 can be 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.
Recommended guidelines for visiting contractors
Regardless of what your contractors are entering your property to do, committees should bear in mind the following to keep residents and visiting contractors safe.
Committees may need to revisit and possibly review contractor and visitor procedures to ensure everyone’s safety. PICA Group is updating the terms and conditions on work orders being issued to contractors regarding COVID-19 guidelines.
- Be briefed on social distancing measures. Contractors should be informed on social distancing protocols before visiting the property.
- Request a Safe Work Method Statement, which includes additional processes such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and social distancing measures.
- Practise social distancing in common areas and display signs or section-off areas where they expect to be working.
- Disinfect equipment before it is brought on-site.
- Regularly sanitise hands and ask them to disinfect door handles and other surfaces they come into contact with after they have completed their work.
- Bring their own pens if any signatures are required.
- Upon job completion of a job, use electronic means for sharing images and submit invoices via email.
COVID-19 is showing we need to come together as a community, look after our properties and look after each other to stay safe. If you have concerns about how your property is managing compliance requirements during COVID-19—or, on an ongoing basis—please talk to your manager.
Note: We are not in the position to provide health advice and urge you to keep up-to-date with guidance provided by the Australian Government.