An ACT lot owner is wondering if the common property playground safety is the responsibility of the Owners Corporation.
Question: We have two playgrounds at our large unit complex which are effectively open to the public. What are the Owners Corporation’s responsibilities in relation to playground safety?
I have raised the issue of playground safety with our Executive Committee. We have two playgrounds at our large unit complex. They are fairly simple in nature with swings, slides and similar play equipment.
However, they are effectively open to the public as there are no gates or other barriers preventing adults and children from neighbouring areas using our playgrounds, which they do.
What are the Owners Corporation’s responsibilities in relation to playground safety? Among other things, should we have regular, documented safety inspections done and/or should we erect signs providing guidance to residents and visitors about using the playgrounds?
Answer: The greater the foreseeability of risk and probability of harm caused by a defective playground, the higher the obligation on the Owners Corporation or executive committee to take precautions to prevent harm.
In determining whether the Owners Corporation or executive committee have breached the duty of care owed to residents, occupiers or visitors, the essential question is whether the owners corporation or executive committee knew or ought to have known that the playground was dangerous and failed to take precautions to address the danger?
The greater the foreseeability of risk and probability of harm caused by a defective playground, the higher the obligation on the Owners Corporation or executive committee to take precautions to prevent harm. For example, it is implicit from the relevant court decisions that if an Owners Corporation or executive committee was aware that a non-BCA compliant playground was also dangerous, they could be liable for any resulting injury. Such knowledge may be imputed from:
- building reports or complaints highlighting the safety issues of a playground; or
various safety incidents caused by a defect in the playground, indicating to the owners corporation or executive committee that the playground is unsafe.
This post appears in Strata News #410.
Have a question about the safety responsibilities around a common property playground or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
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