The Importance of Building Safety
Our communities are more well-equipped and better prepared today than ever before due in large part to our consistent building practices. But the work to improve building safety isn’t over.
The International Code Council is the trusted source for codes and standards related to building safety. Building owners and managers should review the ICC’s standards to protect the safety of the people who work in and visit their buildings.
- Preparing for Disasters: Build Strong, Build Smart
- Ensuring a Safer Future through Training and Education
- Securing Clean, Abundant Water for all Communities
- Construction Professionals and Homeowners: Partners in Safety
- Innovations in Building Safety
These themes are in addition to general tips and advice to encourage code compliance and maximize safety in the workplace for those who work in the buildings you build and/or maintain.
Important Building Risk Management and Safety Tips
These general safety tips will help you manage risks throughout your building more efficiently while simultaneous strengthening your organizational focus on safety.
- Make sure all exits are adequately identified, well-lit, and clear of obstructions and debris.
- Provide handrails in all stairwells and for all steps in and outside your building.
- Repair cracks in sidewalks and driveways. Make sure parking lots are free of potholes.
- Check fire escapes and other exterior structures to ensure they are in good working order, are not blocked, and provide access to the street.
- Install appropriate ground-fault circuit interruption (GFCI) breakers in all areas where water and moisture exist like kitchens, bathrooms, laundry facilities, etc.
- Create a plan for emergency response and practice that plan, so everyone is aware of his or her role in the process.
- Use slip-resistant coverings on all stairs.
- Install appropriate smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are both hardwired and equipped with battery backup.
- Service and inspect all building fire and sprinkler systems according to code regulations at a minimum.
Even after following tips for addressing general risks in your buildings, there are more specific instructions and guidelines that can significantly reduce possible injuries and losses to your organization.
Addressing Slips, Trips, and Falls
You may not realize the importance of managing the risks of slips and falls in your building and on your property at first glance. But when you get down to the dollars and cents of it, they are essential. These are just a few of the financial statistics about slips and falls the National Floor Safety Institute has collected:
- 85% of worker’s compensation claims result from employees slipping on slick floors.
- 22% of slip and fall accidents result in the loss of 31 or more days from work.
- The costs of slip and fall incidents in the workplace exceed $70 billion each year.
- Falls on the same levels (as in not related to heights) account for more than 60 percent of compensable fall injuries.
These numbers don’t even include the costs, facts, and figures related to guest or customer slip and fall injuries. The bottom line is simple. It pays for building owners and managers to invest heavily in efforts to prevent slips, trips, and falls.
Efforts to consider include:
- Monitoring transitions to ensure they are as smooth as possible. This includes calling attention to transitions and maintaining consistent flooring throughout buildings whenever possible.
- Warn people about slippery conditions. Whether it’s a rainy day, people are tracking in melting snow and ice, or you’re mopping and/or managing spills; it is essential to post visible warning signs related to slippery conditions.
- Provide sufficient lighting so people can quickly identify possible slip, trip, and fall hazards to avoid them.
- Use mats and runners. Not only will this help to reduce water being tracked into the building during wet conditions or in parts of the building where moisture is common, but it also provides a psychological indication for people to slow down and pay attention.
- Assign someone, or a group of people, to the tasks of keeping walkways clear, cleaning up water and ice, and warning others of specific hazards as they arise.
Tending to the safety concerns by promoting building safety as part of your business culture can save lives, first and foremost. It can also save your organization a great deal of money.