1 January 2012 is fast approaching and as well as ushering in a brand new year, this 1 January sees the commencement of the new harmonised Workplace Health and Safety legislation in Queensland. The Act will require building designers to consider the health and safety of people who work in, on or around the buildings they are designing.
The major difference in this legislation with regard to the existing Queensland legislation is that there is no exemption of any class of building.
In regard to designers of buildings the current Act states;
“structure does not include a structure that is a class 1a building or an associated class 10a building.”
The new legislation contains no such exemption and also makes it clear that the designer’s obligations for health and safety of people apply to a building, part of a building or change to the design of a building.
That means that houses are now included as are extensions, renovations and refurbishments of any building. A workplace is defined as anywhere where someone is employed to do any type of work. So the designer’s responsibility extends to persons employed to construct, maintain, extend or refurbish and/or demolish the building as well as those who work in the building, in the gardens or even on the footpath outside the building.
The responsibility of the designer is to;1. identify the hazards related to working on or in the building;
2. assess the risk posed by the hazard;
3. eliminate or minimise the risk
4. communicate any residual risks.
According to the Draft Code of Practice for Safe Design of Buildings and Structures;
“The WHS Regulations require a designer to provide a written report to the person commissioning the design on the health and safety aspects of the design. This report must specify the hazards relating to the design of the structure that, so far as the designer is reasonably aware:
• create a risk to persons who are to carry out the construction work, and
• are associated only with the particular design and not with other designs of the same type of structure.
The information should include:
• any hazardous materials or structural features and the designer’s assessment of the risk of injury or harm resulting from those hazards;
• the action the designer has taken to reduce those risks, for example changes to the design; or changes to construction methods; and
• any parts of the design where hazards have been identified but not resolved.”
At the BDAQ RoadShow in March 2012 we will be workshopping these requirements and providing templates and checklists to assist members to comply with the Act. We will start to roll out the material as it becomes available between now and the RoadShow to ensure that members are as prepared as possible before 1 January.
The Code of Practice will be clear about what is expected of designers and the draft gives some clues as to the extent of consultation required.
“While designers may not have management and control over the actual construction work they can discharge their duty by consulting, co-operating and co-ordinating activities, where reasonably practicable, with those who do have management or control of the construction work, for example by:
• providing guidance on how a structure might be constructed safely
• applying risk management processes to more traditional designs and considering whether new or innovative approaches to design will eliminate or minimise risk and result in an intrinsically safer building or structure
• providing information of any identified hazards arising from an unconventional design to those who will construct or use the building, and
• carrying out the above in association with those who have expertise in construction safety.”
This will be an important change to how building designers carry out their work and the March RoadShow will be important training for every member. You should program it into your 2012 diary now to ensure you don’t miss out.
In the meantime building designers should be including time for research, consultation and reporting in every quote prepared for work to be completed after 1 January 2012.
Below are the RoadShow dates:
GLADSTONE Mon 12 March BOONDALL Wed 21 March
MACKAY Tue 13 March SPRINGWOOD Thu 22 March
TOWNSVILLE Wed 14 March TOOWOOMBA Fri 23 March
CAIRNS Thu 15 March HERVEY BAY Wed 28 March
DARWIN Sat 17 March SUNSHINE COAST Thu 29 March
Put yours in your 2012 Diary NOW. We look forward to seeing you there.