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People (and parties!) on balconies with no safety railings!
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Shackleton
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30/12/2018 - 1:53 pm
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Our building is being renovated and several apartments are yet to have any safety railings installed on their balconies. The work is on hold for an indefinate period. There is a temporary partition (with door) giving onto the these unfinished and unprotected balconies. It seems the temporary doors don’t lock.

For several weeks now the owners/tenants/friends/squatters (don’t really know who they are) have been gathering on these unprotected balconies, admiring the view, having drinks, having BBQ’s, storing furniture!, etc. This is a several storey building! Some look set to have a party on NYE!

If someone injured themself (or died) by falling off one of these unprotected balconies would the owners corporation be liable?

Thank you

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Sir Humphrey
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30/12/2018 - 2:06 pm
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I am not a lawyer but I think the OC could be liable, especially if the person who fell was a child or some other person for whom it could not be argued that they fully understood the risk. Even if the OC were not liable, it is clearly highly irresponsible. 

If the OC has engaged a builder to do the work to complete the balcony, and the builder is leaving the balcony essentially unprotected, then the OC should make an urgent enquiry to make sure the builder’s liability insurance is up to date and to insist that the doors be secured. Do it in writing so the OC has some evidence that it tried to do the right thing. 

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Shackleton
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30/12/2018 - 2:32 pm
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Thanks for your point of view and good point about people not fully understanding the risk. For heavens sake some have now installed a TV and couch on their balcony only centimetres from the edge.

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Jimmy-T
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31/12/2018 - 6:24 pm
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A TV and sofa, and stored goods are bad enough – but when there is no safety rail.

If the strata committee is aware of this, they need to send notes (or stick them on doors) telling people that they mustn’t use their balconies until they are safe and until such times as they are made safe, they do so at their own risk.  The balconies are more than likely common property – that means the owners corp is responsible.

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JeremyS
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02/01/2019 - 10:23 am
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It’s an unsafe worksite. 

This is how I’d handle it:

Call SafeWork NSW ph. 13 10 50  and inform them of the immediate danger this unsafe worksite poses to the public, especially children.

Request a site visit by a Workplace safety inspector.

Complete the call with an email to the department officer with explanatory photos.

Copy in the Owners Corporation secretary and ask them to notify their insurer under their duty of continuous disclosure.

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Shackleton
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02/01/2019 - 11:39 am
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Thanks for your replies.

So far the builder, council, and building certifier have been contacted. Both the builder and council advise it is not their responsibility but have taken note. For the time being no response from the works certifier. 

The Strata Committee sent correspondence to the various owners which has been ignored as the balconies are still being used with the locked “safety” doors wide open day and night. The building manager however was threatened by one of these owners for raising the concern in the first place.

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scotlandx
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03/01/2019 - 9:53 pm
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I am very puzzled by this – the builders are responsible to maintain a safe site. Whenever we have done work the builders have had conniptions if there was any breach of site security.

JeremyS is right, contact Safework NSW urgently.

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Andy
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04/01/2019 - 9:06 am
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If there is a DA then the council is concerned and there would be conditions attached including permitted access.

The council is probably sticking it’s head in the sand (or worse) like many councils when it comes to development. Let me guess they said it’s a private certifier issue? Let me guess the people doing the work also work for council?

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Sir Humphrey
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05/01/2019 - 10:56 am
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The EC contacting work safe would demonstrate an attempt to ensure safety. I think it should be proactive by also directly contacting the builders telling them to secure the balconies and also by putting notices on the doors of every unit with a balcony. 

It could also be useful to rope off the area below the balconies if the builders have not done so (as they should have). The danger is not just to a person falling but also to anyone underneath any kind of falling object. 

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Shackleton
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07/01/2019 - 3:12 pm
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Andy said
If there is a DA then the council is concerned and there would be conditions attached including permitted access.

The council is probably sticking it’s head in the sand (or worse) like many councils when it comes to development. Let me guess they said it’s a private certifier issue? Let me guess the people doing the work also work for council?  

Good point and I will post separately as the council has done a backflip (or forward flip). Yes one of the owners doing work to their balcony has also done work this council and in particular the department that deals in DA’s. Sounds like they were quite tight…

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Shackleton
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07/01/2019 - 3:55 pm
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Update: after initially advising they weren’t concerned council now advises that the owners doing renovations are in breach of the DA conditions. Council then passed the issue to the private certifier.

As advised previously; the warning notice sent by the strata committee to these renegade owners was ignored and the building manager even threatened and harassed. The private certifier has advised of serving a notice on the owners corporation for this breach of DA which is unfortunate as the strata committee acted immediately.

One of these particular owners (who is rather notorious in the complex) even had the hide to lie to the strata committe by claiming that the issue was resolved within an hour and that the strata committee was just being malicious and vindictive despite the fact use of these unguarded balconies continued for another 4 days. This was subsequently confirmed by the private certifier and the real-estate agent attending to one of the units involved.

At this stage ithe renegade owners seem to be superficially complying but there remain a few outstanding issues.

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