A government department is a tenant in privately-owned commercial buildings. A conversation came up regarding who holds the responsibility to identify asbestos risks in the workplace and put in place the process to manage them.
You would expect the landlord, as a Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU), to hold that responsibility. However, the Department is also a PCBU, with management and control over the workplace; hence, they must step up if the landlord fails in their duty.
Problem to solve
How can the Department identify and manage asbestos risks when it becomes their responsibility to do so?
Firstly, we needed to understanding the potential exposure. A desktop survey of the Department’s tenancies was completed to triage the risk.
We then developed correspondence for the Department to request information from landlords. This would show, at the least, that the Department was consulting, cooperating, and endeavouring to coordinate activities in relation to their premises.
The information received was reviewed to assess whether it was sufficient to meet the PCBU’s duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act and Asbestos regulations.
MCG Provided the Department with the following:
- A National Asbestos Management Strategy, that provided a decision-making framework, and
- A global contractor-specific asbestos management plan, based on the presumption that asbestos is present in all properties built prior to 1 January 2000.
This would address the risks where the information was insufficient, and manage property risks going forward.