Facility / Asset Manager Guide for Installations

Whilst many companies oversee the safety and maintenance of their own buildings, facility managers are those responsible for overseeing the physical building and structure assets for companies on behalf of the asset owners for those that lease premises, across the broad spectrum of industries across Australia.

The Workplace Health & Safety legislation prescribes that the asset owners have a primary duty of care to those who use, access and work within these premises. Equally, the leasing the premises need to have systems of safety in place to manage the risks of those employees working in the premises. Therefore the role of the facility manager is critical in ensuring that the interests of both the asset owner and the user of the facility are accounted for and managed appropriately.

There are many facility managers that may not entirely be aware of their obligations in these circumstances. For others, they are very much aware of their obligations, however they are unsure as to who to turn to to assist them with their height risk management processes.

Market Feedback

Recent feedback gathered from the WAHA from asset and facility managers is that they have become increasingly concerned about the standards of installation work on buildings they are responsible for managing. Specific feedback includes:

  1. There is a misunderstanding about how they can comply with legislation when they themselves do not understand the nature of the compliance of a height safety system;
  2. The regulators do their best, but they are not a ‘cop on the beat’ to be able to assess whether installations are compliant, and they don’t know who else to call;
  3. One installation company that comes to site will make recommendations, but these can be directly contradicted by another, yet they have limited information to be able to assess who is wrong or right about the standard of an installation project;
  4. They have received hand-over of a site from a builder for the ‘compliant safety systems’, yet there is no handover documentation to verify the systems that have been handed over are suitable for use;
  5. They have spent so much money providing safety systems on roofs and yet they don’t understand their obligations for the need to consistently react to make systems compliant with changes in Standards.

There is clearly a role for industry to play in helping to lift transparency around these issues and his is becoming the significant focus for the WAHA in the next 3 years.

Regulator Engagement

Through direct dialogue with a number of regulators, the WAHA has been given an indication that if industry can self-manage and self-regulate the standards of work in industry, they will support such an initiative, given the wide scope of their responsibilities. The WAHA has been told that despite our preference for achieving a licensing system, it is unlikely that working at height will be the subject of issue of a regulator-style high risk work license. It is therefore contingent upon the association to develop the tools and internal management processes for members to ensure that self-regulation can prove to be solution to address the installation standards and the concerns of all facility and asset managers across the country.

Part of the remit for the WAHA in the coming 3 years is to assist Facility Managers and Asset Owners to:

  1. Understand their obligations with respect to height safety and confined spaces risks;
  2. Provide guidance but to help them understand the standards of height safety they should expect to receive when commissioning works on their sites;
  3. Better understand their reporting requirements to the set owners and to highlight the risks of failing to address height safety risks identified on site;
  4. Provide an overview of the hand-over documentation they should expect to receive at the hand-over stage of the job and how this information should be used.

This information will become available and be issued through the Industry Codes that will be published progressively by the WAHA. The organisation has already released the industry code for anchor points, however this is being further revised in 2018. Copy of the industry code is available HERE.

Contact the secretary of the association if you need any additional information in the interim.