Building Safety Month 2019: No Code. No Confidence.

Topics: Loss Control

Every May, the International Code Council (ICC) comes together with its 64,000 members, professionals in the building construction, design and safety communities, government agencies, professional associations and nonprofits to promote Building Safety Month. For the past 39 years, the goal of the campaign has been to raise awareness about the importance of building safety, as well as to celebrate the advances in the construction of safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient buildings and homes.

Today, Building Safety Month is celebrated worldwide. The ICC’s mission is “to provide the highest quality codes, standards, products and services for all concerned with the safety and performance of the built environment.” Staying within compliance of the ICC codes, as well as those developed by entities such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and local, county or state codes, while following risk management tips can help reduce unnecessary costs and accidents in the workplace.

Each week of the month focuses on a different initiative:

Week 1 – Preparing for Disasters: Build Strong, Build Smart

Planning for a natural disaster by utilizing the most up-to-date building codes helps increase the health and safety of a community, as well as protect the local tax base, ensure continuity of essential services and support a faster recovery.

Week 2 – Ensuring a Safer Future through Training and Education

When it comes to creating and maintaining a successful built environment, well-trained professionals are an integral component. Training and education helps code officials avoid mistakes and accidents and properly enforce the code.

Week 3 – Securing Clean, Abundant Water for all Communities

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 844 million people do not have access to a basic drinking-water service. The code officials who protect our water supply allow us to have clean water through their dedicated service to implementing building, plumbing and green codes to guard this precious commodity.

Week 4 – Construction Professionals and Homeowners: Partners in Safety

In the United States, building construction regulations date as far back as the 1700s. Today, building codes help reduce fire risk, address structural integrity, safe exits, lighting, ventilation and more. This is why it’s important to visit your local building department before taking on any type of remodeling or construction job. Code officials can help you avoid potential problems and ensure all buildings, including homes and businesses, are built to the required building safety codes.

Week 5 – Innovations in Building Safety

Science and technology continue to lead the way for designing and constructing safe, efficient and resilient homes and buildings. Utilizing innovations like green building construction and code compliant building products, the ICC’s goal is to advance the industry and ensure safe building structures.

Building Safety Tips for the Workplace

building safety tips to maintain code compliance and safe workplace

It’s important for businesses of all sizes to take measures to help manage risks that could lead to injuries or accidents in the workplace. However, with so many building codes to adhere to and new ones popping up all the time, you may wonder if your organization is “up to code” – and how to maintain compliance going forward. However, remember that proper risk management can help prevent accidents, injuries and fines for infractions that can cost thousands of dollars.

This Building Safety Month, here are a few tips that can help your organization both maintain code compliance and ensure workplace safety:
  • Inspect walkways and parking lots. Look for potholes, depressions and uneven walkways or wheel stops in parking spaces that need repairing. Provide proper marking for changes in elevation and parking spaces.
  • Help prevent slips, trips and falls. Install non-slip stair treads or slip resistant stair coverings. Use caution markers for wet areas, and clean up any spills immediately. Place rain mats at all entry points, and use non-slip mats for wet areas, such as around ice machines or sinks.
  • Provide proper lighting and means of egress. Make sure emergency lighting is installed and in good condition; create a testing program to ensure they are in working order at all times. All exit signs should be identified and illuminated with a clear, unobstructed path to the exit.
  • Review electrical components. Wet areas such as kitchens and bathrooms should have ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breakers installed, and these should be inspected regularly. Check electrical panels for missing breakers and covers, and establish a clear space of 36 inches around them.
  • Properly install railings and balusters. Guardrails should have a height of at least 42 inches, while balusters should not exceed four inches apart. Provide handrails for steps with four or more risers, and prevent climbing hazards by removing or protecting horizontal balusters.
  • Maintain alarms and detectors. All buildings should have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors hardwired with a battery backup. Implement a testing program to ensure they remain in good working condition throughout the year.
  • Check exterior fire escapes. If there are AC units blocking egress onto fire escapes, make sure to remove them. The ladder mechanism should be inspected for proper functioning, and verify that there is access to the street from the fire escape.
  • Service and inspect fire sprinkler systems. Properly service and inspect fire sprinkler systems in accordance with all applicable regulations and standards. Keep inspection records on file and have the system monitored by a central station.
  • Create an emergency response plan. In the event of an emergency, it’s crucial to develop an evacuation plan. Designate a trusted individual to call 911 and direct first responders to the location.

Keep in mind that if you are planning to renovate your commercial property, you must obtain the proper permits first. Always hire qualified and insured contractors to maintain your property, and designate a manager within your organization to handle code compliance. This individual can also be responsible for conducting self-inspections to help identify issues before they arise. Additionally, remember that building codes can change over time, so be sure to familiarize yourself with your local codes.

Loss Control Services from AmTrust Financial

AmTrust’s Loss Control Department can help your small business assess the conditions, practices and processes of the workplace to help identify hazards in the workplace. We can recommend strategies to help reduce, control or eliminate accidents and losses. We are dedicated to providing the right resources to create the most effective loss control program for your specific needs. For more information, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.
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