Workers in the home – are you covered?

Injuries to household and domestic workers: Are you covered?

Queensland Home and Contents insurance policies exclude injuries to Domestic Workers such as domestic cleaners, babysitters, nannies, gardeners and in-home carers, or in situations where a WorkCover Policy of insurance might respond. By legislation, WorkCover Queensland Household Worker Insurance Policy will protect home owners against these types of risks. The cost for a 2 year policy is only $50 and is a simple online application. Click here to view the application.

Home based businesses

It should be noted that a WorkCover Household Worker Policy will not cover workers, including family members engaged in connection with a business operating from home, such as a home photography studio, home hairdressing business, office or operating a sharing economy like AirBnB. WorkCover Queensland advises that it is mandatory for Home Business owners to take out a WorkCover Accident Insurance Policy with WorkCover Queensland, to cover accidents or injuries to workers employed in their home operated business.

WorkCover Queensland advises that uninsured employers who lodge WorkCover claims are held to account and subject to significant financial penalties, including the cost of WorkCover claims lodged by their employees. Click here to view the WorkCover Accident Policy application.

The penalties can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars for severe injuries, if you do not have the adequate types of cover for either the Household Worker Insurance policy or the Accident Insurance policy. Likewise, General Insurance products for Home Based Businesses requires totally separate consideration.

Some Home and Contents policies may not be suitable if you have a home business. It is recommended that you contact us to tailor a suitable insurance program for your business needs.

NBN…Cause for Alarm?

The rollout of the NBN network involves new technologies and some of your existing devices are unlikely to be compatible with the new system.

Transitioning to the NBN can cause your alarm monitoring to stop working and consequently it is vital that you contact your alarm company to consider your options before performing your NBN transition.

Many current alarm systems are designed to use a phone line to dial the business owner or a monitoring centre and alert them to a sensor being triggered. Most alarms dial out over a copper phone line and can still dial out even if the phone line is already in use.

Currently, this copper line is not dependent on electricity being connected to your premises and your alarm is still capable of communication and provided you have a battery back-up power supply, your alarm will continue to function for a number of hours. While it’s tempting to think that you can simply plug into an equivalent phone port provided with an NBN service, there are some issues which need to be considered.

As the NBN fibre cable will mostly be fitted to an existing building, it is often laid in vulnerable areas and a thief can simply cut the fibre, defeating the alarm monitoring. The second issue is in relation to power failure. It is not difficult for a thief to simply turn off the power in an external power board, in order to defeat the alarm.

While the obvious solution is to look for alternative ways to maintain this connectivity, this must be done in collaboration with the alarm company. The simplest solution is to use the mobile network, provided you have a good and consistent signal. GPRS is the older

technology and is more widely used, but there can be coverage problems with 3G generally providing better coverage. Some alarm companies will set the communication to go via two mobile providers, as this protects against the failure of a particular mobile tower failing, which happens more than you realise. Although the NBN will provide a number of benefits, there is usually new equipment required to make the change and while this might be as simple as installing a new box onto your system, it may require a completely new alarm system.

Transitioning your business or home to the NBN can result in your alarm to stop working and consequently it’s important to contact your supplier to be able to consider your options before transitioning to the NBN.
Finally, it’s important to note that at the end of the 18 month transition period, your traditional copper telephone line will be disconnected. This means that if you wish to continue to make phone calls or use the internet through a landline service, you will need to be connected to the NBN.

Pool Safety in Queensland

Of Australia’s 280 drowning deaths in the year to June 2016, 45 occurred in backyard swimming pools according to The Royal Life Saving’s National Drowning Report 2016.

In the Summer of 2016-2017, news headlines around the country have been dominated by a swag of reports of toddler drownings in backyard pools.

Given the recent reports, it is a timely reminder to revisit Queensland’s pool safety laws and complete your own safety check of your backyard swimming pool.

The Queensland Government introduced the current pool safety laws as a result of the most comprehensive review of Queensland’s pool safety laws in nearly 20 years. The laws were introduced across two stages. Stage 1 commenced on 1 December 2009 and applied mostly to new residential outdoor swimming pools. It included:

  • Introducing the latest swimming pool safety standards
  • Regulating temporary fencing for pools
  • Mandatory follow-up final inspections
  • Introducing the latest cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) signage standards.

Stage 2 commenced on 1 December 2010 and mostly affected existing swimming pools. The
stage 2 measures included:

  •  An independent pool safety council
  •  A training and licensing framework for pool safety inspectors
  •  Replacing 11 different pool safety standards with one pool safety standard for all regulated pools. Both new and existing pools must comply with the standard by 1 December 2015
  • All regulated pools to be included in a state based pool register
  • Fencing for portable pools and spas deeper than 300 millimetres
  • Mandatory inspections by local governments for immersion incidents of children under 5 in swimming pools. These incidents are required to be reported by hospitals including voluntary reporting by Queensland Ambulance Service. Under the laws, pool owners had until 30 November, 2015 to meet the current pool safety standard or earlier if they sold or leased their property. Since 1 December 2010, properties could not be leased or have another accommodation agreement entered into without a pool safety certificate.

Powers of Entry
The Local Government Act 2009 and City of Brisbane Act 2010 have been amended to provide the power for an authorised person from a local government to enter the property (other than a home on the property) without permission from the occupier of the property, to inspect a swimming pool and barriers or fencing for the pool for compliance purposes. If following an inspection, the pool is found not to comply with the relevant standards, then the local government must take the necessary enforcement action to ensure the pool is modified to comply with the relevant standards. This could include issuing an enforcement notice, issuing an infringement notice, prosecution and other legal proceedings, or carrying out remedial work in accordance with the relevant acts.

New domestic smoke alarm laws

From January 2017, new fire smoke alarm laws apply to domestic building owners.

As of January 2017, any new dwelling or dwellings that are being substantially renovated must comply with the new regulations.

 

This includes:

  • Only photoelectric smoke alarms are to be installed
  • Any smoke alarm over 10 years old must be replaced by a photoelectric alarm
  • Any replacement of an existing alarm must be with a photoelectric type.

Photoelectric alarms are more advanced and are widely regarded as being superior to ionisation alarms in most circumstances. They respond faster than other alarms to most fire types and are less likely to cause false alarms.
They are particularly effective at detecting smouldering fires, which provides the earliest possible warning of a small developing fire. If your smoke alarm has a radioactive warning symbol on it, it is an ionisation smoke alarm.

From January 2022, all homes or units sold, leased or prior to a lease renewal must comply with the new regulations. The new regulations will require photoelectric smoke alarms to be hardwired to mains power with a backup power source or powered by a non-removable 10 year battery.

The smoke alarms to be installed:

  •  In all bedrooms
  •  In all hallways that connect bedrooms to rest of the dwelling
  • If there is no hallway, between bedroom and other parts of the storey
  • If more than one storey building at least one smoke alarm in each storey
  • If there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exist the building
  • All alarms must be interconnected with all other alarms for all to activate together.

Whilst most alarms are attached to a ceiling, care must be taken in positioning them. Keep them away from light fittings, fans, air conditioning and corners of a room. Cathedral and exposed beam ceiling require special attention. For more information, for fitting smoke alarms discuss with a qualified technician and/or refer to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services or Master Electricians Australia.