Your health and safety obligations as a landlord
If you are a commercial landlord, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), you are also a PCBU. If you don’t know what a PCBU is or what it means to be one, read on because it’s important.
A PCBU is a 'person conducting a business or an undertaking' and as such, PCBUs have a variety of obligations and duties under the law. Most NZ businesses, including large corporations, sole traders and self-employed are classed as PCBUs, which means both you and your tenant are likely to be PCBUs with similar health and safety obligations and duties.
The duties of PCBUs
The primary duty of a PCBU is to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and other people affected by work on your property. This includes tenants, contractors engaged by you, or members of the public visiting your property.
You also have a duty to consult, cooperate and coordinate with other PCBUs, such as your tenants; however, you may not transfer your duties to anyone else. PCBUs should work together to develop health and safety policies, procedures and standards, and to prevent, investigate and eliminate any foreseeable risks.
Your duties under the Act are qualified by the concept of ‘reasonably practicable’, which takes into consideration the following factors:
- the likelihood of the hazard or risk occurring
- the degree of harm that might result
- what the person concerned knows about the hazard or risk
- the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk.
Penalties for non-compliance
There is nothing new about keeping workplaces safe; however under the current Act, the penalties for non-compliance are greater.
There is a three-tier penalty system, with penalties up to 5 years’ imprisonment and fines up to $600,000 for individuals and $3 million for companies for serious offences. As an example, if someone is injured as a result of a poorly maintained electrical appliance, as a landlord you could face a maximum $300,000 fine.
Everyone deserves a safe and healthy environment to work in and, as a commercial landlord, it is part of your duty to provide this. If you need any advice or guidance in this area, be sure to contact a professional. There are loads of people out there will the skills and knowledge to help minimise the risks to persons and finances.
For more information, visit www.worksafe.govt.nz