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WA commercial property controllers lack vehicle safety awareness

State workplace watchdog notes low knowledge of duties and responsibilities


WorkSafe WA has identified a worrying ignorance amongst Western Australian commercial property owners and managers of their safety responsibilities, including those related to vehicles.

A year-long project concentrated on small to medium-sized shopping centres because they have a number of workplaces located onsite, contractors are used on a regular basis and members of the public use the centres every day.

While transport and logistics sector concern will related to the interface with commercial vehicles and drivers, the ignorance relates to all property areas.

WorkSafe WA director Joe Attard says the program had been prompted by a growing awareness by inspectors that commercial owners and property managers may not understand all their general safety obligations.

“Inspectors in the services industries area had noticed that commercial property owners and property managers were not always aware of their duties under the occupational safety and health legislation as persons in control of workplaces,” Attard states.

“When a proactive inspection program was focused on the area, the results showed that there were knowledge gaps in relation to workplace safety and health obligations. 

“Concerns emerged in a couple of areas where hazards may lead to people being seriously injured or killed.

“The legislation applies to owners and managers who have any control over access and egress to a workplace, or who have control over a workplace where persons who are not their employees are likely to be in the course of their work.

“During this inspection program, inspectors found that commercial property owners and property managers were generally not aware that they had a responsibility ensure safe movement of vehicles and mobile plant, particularly in common delivery areas and loading docks, and there were limited controls in place at many premises.

“Property owners and property managers may have no involvement in work activity being done at their premises, but if some control is retained, then a duty applies to minimise risks to workers.”

Last week, WorkSafe WA released a self-assessment tool for safe movement of vehicles and mobile plant.

This follows a safety warning last September over issues involving both trucks and other vehicles.

“In relation to this project and movement of vehicles and mobile plant – we are continuing to promote the project newsletter, a checklist focusing on movement of vehicles and plant is being promoted at all workplaces and we have shared this information with stakeholders and associations,” a spokesperson for the project says.

The finding comes follows an inspection program during the last financial year and some 15 months after Chain of Responsibility provisions came into force in the state and.

The spokeswoman notes that COR is a Department of Main Roads responsibility.

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