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News / Important reminder for Retirement Village Operators - new obligations relating to Asbestos /  

Important reminder for Retirement Village Operators - new obligations relating to Asbestos

8 November 2013

In under two months many Queensland retirement village operators will become subject to new obligations under the workplace health and safety legislation relating to asbestos in their villages.

The obligations

These obligations require affected operators to:

  • prepare an asbestos register and an asbestos management plan for the retirement village;
  • ensure that these documents are kept up to date; and
  • ensure that these documents are readily accessible to certain persons.

Asbestos registers are required for all workplaces, unless ALL of the following apply:

  • They are constructed after 31 December 2003;
  • No asbestos has been identified; and
  • No asbestos is likely to be present.

Asbestos management plans are required for any workplace where asbestos has been identified, or is likely to be present.

Changes from 1 January 2014

Transitional provisions mean that these obligations do not yet apply to some villages (or some parts of villages).  Specifically, these obligations do not yet apply to:

  • workplaces constructed under an approval issued after 31 December 1989; or
  • structures used for domestic residential purposes (e.g. retirement village units, as opposed to office areas and common areas).

These transitional provisions will cease to apply from 1 January 2014, meaning from that date:

  • workplaces constructed at any time before 2004 will now be subject to the obligations; and
  • the previous exemption for domestic residences will no longer apply.

Due to the broad definition of "workplace" in the legislation, operators should consider their retirement village units (as well as other parts of their villages) to be workplaces for the purpose of these obligations, even though they are also a resident's home.

What should operators do?

If they have not already done so, retirement village operators should:

  • contact us to clarify their obligations, if necessary;
  • where required by the legislation, engage a qualified asbestos expert to assist in the preparation of asbestos registers and asbestos management plans; and
  • if seeking to pass their compliance costs on to residents, consult us to ensure this is done in accordance with the Retirement Villages Act 1999 and the operator's documentation.

For more information contact:

Stuart Lowe | Senior Associate

t +61 7 3224 0355

f +61 7 3224 0333

slowe@mullinslaw.com.au

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