Important new WA OHS Workplace Regulations come into effect on May 14, 2018. Real Estate Agents, Property Conveyances and Strata Managers need to be aware of these changes.
Essentially the changes mean that nobody in WA is permitted to work in a residential roof space while the power to the property is energised (remains turned on).
The definition of work includes building inspections and in particular Pre Purchase Building Inspections, Building Maintenance Inspections, Defect Liability Period Inspections and Practical Completion Construction Inspections.
The net effect of the above is that power to the property must be turned off prior to the building inspector being permitted to enter the roof space. Where power cannot be turned off (i.e. metre box is locked or cannot be accessed) the roof space will need to be excluded from the scope of the inspection. Where this occurs there may be arguments that the vendor has not made the property available for inspection and hence contractual and cost implications.
The secondary impact of the new requirements is that all electrical appliances (clocks, security, CCTV, servers, computers, pools, reticulation, etc., etc.,) in a property, that are not supported by battery backups, will need to be reset post building inspection by the property owner or occupant. It is important that industry participants including Real Estate Agents make vendors and or their tenants aware of these requirements as it is sure to cause a degree of angst where owners or occupants are unaware that the power will be turned off with the resultant impacts on electrical appliances.
What Does the Legislation Say?
All workers, including persons who undertake electrical work and persons who do not undertake electrical work, shall not enter in a roof space of a Class 1, Class 2 or Class 10a building, unless the building’s electrical installation, other than any service apparatus, is de-energised and isolated. This applies to all work undertaken in the space in the building that is:
(i) immediately underneath the roof; or
(ii) if there is a ceiling under the roof, or a part of the roof, the space between the roof, or that part of the roof, and the ceiling.
It does not include work undertaken in a habitable part of a roof space, such as an attic.
This is prescribed in r. 3.59B of the OSH Regulations.
What our industry needs to do is advise property owners and occupants about building inspections and the need to turn the building power off:
- Warn owners/occupants at the outset that the building inspector will be turning off the electrical supply at the metre box ( the power will be de-energised)
- Ask about risks they will incur if the power is off
- Work with them to plan for the power outage
- Make sure that the owner/occupant provides access to the property’s electrical metre box – many are locked. If access to the metre box is not provided the power will not be able to be turned off and hence the critical roof space area will be excluded from the scope of the inspection
The above represents a significant change to the industry which participants need to be educated about.
Want more information
- Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety WorkSafe https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/guidance-note-working-roof-spaces
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