AUST – HENDRY building surveyors advise that the Building Code of Australia (BCA) under Part G1, Clause G1.2 ‘Refrigerated chambers, strong rooms and vaults’ sets out safety criteria for the safe operation of refrigerated chambers (cool room/freezers). These provisions are ignored by building owners and building managers frequently.

Building Compliance System

During a building audit and various inspections (such as essential safety measures, BCA audits, due diligence audits or fire safety audits) undertaken by HENDRY and Essential Property Services, our staff become aware of situations in a number of buildings that are unsafe for the occupants of a building.

While legislation concerning the maintenance of essential safety measures around Australia does not allow for ‘directions’ to be used to force an existing building to comply with the current Building Code of Australia, a statutory authority (in most instances, the local council) can force the owner of an existing building to comply with current regulations, usually via a building notice or similar instrument.

The following photographs depict various situations that don’t comply with the current provisions of the BCA under clause G1.2.

Building Code of Australia

In part clause G1.2 states:

G1.2 Refrigerated chambers, strong-rooms and vaults

(a) A refrigerated or cooling chamber, strongroom or vault which is of sufficient size for a person to enter must have –

(i) a door which is capable of being opened by hand from inside without a key; and

(ii) internal lighting controlled only by a switch which is located adjacent to the entrance doorway inside the chamber, strongroom or vault; and

(iii) an indicator lamp positioned outside the chamber, strongroom or vault which is illuminated when the interior lights required by (a)(ii) are switched on; and

(iv) an alarm that is –

(a) located outside but controllable only from within the chamber, strongroom or vault; and

(b) able to achieve a sound pressure level outside the chamber, strongroom or vault of 90 dB(A) when measured 3m from the sounding device.


The building owner and occupier may be at risk to statutory and civil litigation if someone using the refrigerated chamber is unable to escape due to the presence of locking devices; also an inadequate audible sound system contributes to their injuries or worse. Civil litigation would easily reveal that the refrigerated chamber does not comply to current safety standards (community expectations) when compare with the current BCA provisions.

Building Legislation Table

Refer to our Building Legislation table for further information on the building control process.