Essential Safety Measures are the life and fire safety systems that the law requires all industrial, commercial and public building owners to implement and maintain. The regulations necessitate that owners maintain safety equipment, safety fittings and safety measures including:

  • Air conditioning systems

  • early warning systems

  • emergency lifts and lighting

  • emergency lighting

  • emergency power supply

  • emergency warning systems

  • exit signs

  • exit doors

  • fire control centres

  • fire curtains and doors

  • fire extinguishers

  • fire detectors and alarm systems

  • fire hydrants

  • fire isolated stairs

  • fire rated materials

  • fire/smoke doors

  • mechanical ventilation

  • passage ramps

  • path of travel to exits

  • smoke alarms

  • smoke control systems and sprinkler systems

  • fire windows

Building occupiers have an obligation to ensure that all exits and paths of egress remain easily accessible and functional in order to ensure the safety of persons utilising the building. Councils have responsibility under the Building Act 1993 for the enforcement of building safety within their municipality. Building occupiers have an obligation to ensure all exits and paths of travel to exits are kept readily accessible, functional and clear of obstructions. Building owners must ensure that an essential safety measure is maintained so that it operates satisfactorily.

The owner must also keep records of maintenance checks, safety measures and repair work so a municipal building surveyor or chief officer of the fire brigade can inspect them. These documents must be made available to the municipal building surveyor or the chief officer on request after 24 hours' notice has been given. Annual essential safety measure reports and records of maintenance checks, safety measure and repair work must be made available for inspection on request after 24 hours' notice has been given.

If building work is proposed to alter an existing building it may have an effect on essential safety measures, so it is worth checking with a municipal building surveyor or private building surveyor to see what needs to be done to comply with the Act and the Regulations.

The following information gives an outline of the legal requirements that you, as a building owner, need to uphold:

Buildings built before 1st July 1994.

Pertaining to the Building Regulations 2006, owners of buildings constructed before the 1st of July 1994 are obligated to ensure that safety fittings, equipment and measures are satisfactorily maintained and function sufficiently. Owners are required to prepare an Annual Essential Safety Measures Report, ensuring that an ongoing maintenance schedule is upheld, including the inspection, testing and upkeep of essential safety measures in the building. Building owners are required by law to keep records of all inspections and maintenance performed and are required to make this information available to authorities for inspection within 24 hours of notification.

Building constructed or altered between 1st July 1994 & 1 May 2004

After the 1st of July 1994 will have received a list of safety measures, their performance level and maintenance requirements within the occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection. Owners of buildings constructed or altered after this date are required to display the occupancy permit in a prominent position and have an Annual Essential Safety Measures Report prepared each year, detailing inspection and maintenance of safety equipment and measures. All records of audits and any repairs or maintenance are to be kept on the property and made readily available for inspection by the authorities within 24 hours of notification.

Building constructed or altered since 1 May 2004

As part of the 2004 amendment to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume 1, safety measures were defined and Part I introduced a list of safety measures to be maintained. The intent of Part I of the BCA Volume 1 is to establish the minimum standard of performance that all safety measures in buildings must continually be able to achieve.

* Please note that your legal circumstances and obligations are likely to change if you have had building work carried out on your property. You are welcome to contact our staff at MES should you have questions regarding your legal requirements or you are unsure about your current situation.