WA – This Essential Property Services article deals with the current regulatory essential safety measures environment as it applies to Western Australia. It needs to be said that the current state of play with essential service/essential safety measures maintenance and compliance in Western Australia is (to voice an understatement) not very good.

Generally speaking, a number of property owners would be amazed at their exposure to risk with their essential safety measures, even with all the staff, consultants, software and contractors for whom they are paying.

While Governments seek to protect the interest of all citizens and stakeholders, a view can be taken that they tend to be largely reactive in their approach to disasters or incidents related to buildings, and appear at times to regulate “too late” and enforce provisions where an edict is issued to “clean up” a section within the property industry.

Licensed premises such as night clubs, backpacker hostels and aged care facilities are examples where councils and Governments have taken a keen interest. A lot of potentially dangerous sections of the property industry regarding fire safety elements and essential safety measures appear to be ignored as the cost to investigate and solve these issues are very high for all stakeholders concerned.

It is only through strong leadership provided by Government, however, that these issues can be confronted and solved regardless of the popularity issues that might be created amongst the lobby groups involved.

Most state authorities have already introduced regulations providing for mandatory maintenance of essential safety measures systems within buildings. Unfortunately the administrative operational and punitive regulations across Australia for essential safety measures has not been uniform. Even with the introduction of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) containing section I, “Maintenance” many States including Western Australia have not adopted the provisions into their legislation.

For decades building authorities in Western Australia have been concentrating on building regulations, as apposed to maintenance regulations and are consequently trailing other states in legislation and enforcement of maintenance and safety measures.

The good news is this is all about to change, the Building Commission of WA is vested with the responsibility to develop the new Building Act that will replace the Building Regulations 1989 and parts of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1960. It appears the new Act has provision for mandatory review and auditing of building maintenance. A Licence Issuing Authority such as Local Government will be required to periodically undertake a review or audit of a building to ensure compliance with the building usage and, if any, the essential safety measures maintenance set out in the certificate of occupancy. The review and auditing process will rely heavily on private sector involvement to ensure regular maintenance certificates are issued by an appropriately qualified professional.