Working at height is key to remedial building work in a strata scheme, especially in multi-storey buildings.
This high-risk environment emphasises the importance of safety to all stakeholders, from lot owners and building occupants, to contracted businesses and workers on site.
Stringent regulations are in place, so why is safety still problematic for the strata sector?
NSW Minister for Work Health and Safety, Sophie Cotsis, recently launched a 12-month campaign of surprise visits of construction sites, targeting the alarming rise of ‘fall from heights’ which result in injury and death.
With more than 15 years of industry experience, Tim Kurniadi heads up Paynter Dixon’s Remedial division. He draws attention to the level of safety awareness across the sector.
“The majority of operators have the best of intentions, but I’m concerned by those who view safety through their own risk matrix or bias,” says Tim. “They may believe their work practices are safe, but do they meet the requirements of Safe Work Australia?”
Tim has advice for strata committees and decision makers tasked with appointing remedial builders for strata repairs to common property.
“Look closely at the structure of the business. Is there a dedicated resource or professional overseeing safety? This inhouse capability enables the business to keep pace with safety requirements as determined by regulatory bodies, and to drive best practice within the business.”
As a commercial construction company, Paynter Dixon has a dedicated HSEQ Manager with oversight of safety.
Accreditation with a reputable safety scheme can demonstrate excellence – but take note of the detail.
“The auditing process and resulting benchmark for accreditation can vary,” says Tim. “Certain schemes confine their assessment to a specific project or point in time, which can appeal to businesses seeking a more convenient option. Think of a driver who only conforms to the speed limit when the speed camera is sign-posted.”
In comparison, to be accredited by the Federal Safety Commissioner (FSC), builders must have rigorous safety management systems in place and demonstrate that they are being implemented and followed on-site. To this end, Paynter Dixon undergoes rigorous auditing to maintain accreditation with the FSC.
“However, most remedial building companies are unlikely to achieve FSC accreditation. This underlines the importance of scrutinising the company before signing on the dotted line. How will they meet their legal obligations under the WHS Act? What systems are in place to manage safety on site? How will they ensure sub-contracted businesses are compliant?”
Behind-the-scenes planning is largely invisible to the observer. Hence, be wary of making positive judgements and assumptions based purely on what you see on site, advises Tim.
“A rope technician in a harness may appear safe, but have the multitude of requirements for working at height been correctly followed? How is that worker safely tethered? What is the rescue plan in event of an emergency? Is there a rope technician assigned for rescue? The list goes on.”
This ‘invisible’ groundwork is comprehensive, from risk assessments, safe work method statements and construction methodologies, to hazard control measures, monitoring systems and compliance checks.
Working with a reputable remedial partner from the outset can make a telling difference in managing risk.
“In this age of increased regulatory and public scrutiny, investing in trusted expertise is your best approach to managing safety in the strata community, while also safeguarding reputation and property value in the long-term.”
Learn more about Paynter Dixon’s specialist remedial, restorative and preventative services for strata clients.
Tim Kurniadi, Sector Lead – Remedial, Paynter Dixon.