Did you know that there is an Australian Standard in relation to glazing? What is glazing? It’s the creation of glass. Australian Standard 1288-2006 sets out the standard to ensure that glass is safe – some people refer to this as shatterproof. This Standard has been in place since 2006, and therefore buildings completed after 2006 can be assumed to comply with the Australian Standards. Old buildings, however, do not comply.
Although few accidents happen regarding glass, when they do, they are catastrophic. Glass sliding doors and glass windows can break and cause amazing amounts of damage to an individual. There is a property management case where a tenant had walked into glass doors which shattered and cut 80% of their body. They didn’t sue the landlord, but they sued the property manager.
A strata manager’s fundamental job in relation to maintenance and repairs is to advise the owner’s corporation of the problem and to inform the owner’s corporation of what to do. An owner’s corporation can engage a specialist to undertake a glass audit of the building. This glass audit essentially certifies whether the windows, glass doors etc comply with the Australian Standard and are safe. An audit does protect the owner’s corporation from liability.
Ignoring the situation, however, does lead to liability for both the owner’s corporation and the strata manager. This case clearly points to owner’s corporations and strata managers being exempt from liability where they have taken all steps necessary to identify the risk and to mitigate the risk of danger.
All properties built prior to 2006 should, at some stage of their life, undertake a glass audit. Most often, owner’s corporation do not want to spend money on things they do not perceive as dangerous. From a strata manager’s perspective, it is this owner’s corporation’s building and they can take whatever risks they wish. Nonetheless, a strata manager should do everything to protect the agency from possible liability.
It is suggested that all annual general meetings, for buildings built before 2006, contain a motion that resolves to appoint a glass audit to ensure the safety of all glass in the building. Once the audit is completed, there is no need for this to remain on the agenda. If the motion does not pass, a strata manager should continue to place it on the agenda for consideration. By putting it on the agenda and having it not pass, the strata manager absolves themselves of liability, passing all possible actions to the owner’s corporation. Owner’s corporation should do everything to protect themselves from liability by undertaking an audit. If they don’t want to, a strata manager should take steps to protect themselves.