The Wagga Wagga City Council area has many shops and commercial buildings that have awnings which project over public footways.
It is not compulsory for shops and commercial buildings to have awnings. However, they provide many benefits to the public, including protection from heat and rain, shading the premises and providing opportunities for advertising.
Some awnings are supported by steel tension rods connected to the building's facia. These rods can fail over time for various reasons including corrosion, adverse wind and weather conditions, poor maintenance, illegal use and loading, build-up of debris inside the structure, failure at the façade or awning connection, impact by a motor vehicle, demolition of an adjoining building or awning and other reasons. The failure of a tension rod can result in an awnings collapse which can cause property damage, personal injury or death.
Many modern awnings are constructed with cantilevered beams which are integral to the structure of the building. Cantilevered awnings are much less likely to suffer catastrophic collapse. However, the legal obligations of the owner are identical to those of awnings with tension rods.
The objectives of this policy are to:
- raise awareness of the need for owners to regularly monitor the safety of their awnings;
- implement an awnings awareness program framework for owners of awnings within the Wagga Wagga City Council area;
- promote an increased level of protection of public health and safety by reducing the risk of harm, injury or death which may result from the failure of an awning overhanging the Council's footways.
What is required of Awning Owners
It is the owner's responsibility to ensure that appropriate action is taken to avoid the risk associated with potential collapse or failure of awnings. Accordingly, all building owners with awnings attached to their building, or overhanging a public place are encouraged to take appropriate action. This may include seeking legal advice on the potential liability for any failure or collapse of their awning.
Council will in writing, yearly, contact all awning owners and strongly encourage those, particularly awnings that are more than 10 years old, to have those awnings inspected by a professional engineer for structural adequacy.