Building Safety Month

Topics: Loss Control

Summary: Building Safety Month was created by the ICC to celebrate the advances in construction of safe, reliable and resilient buildings and homes. Learn more about the 2022 theme and what business owners can do to ensure their buildings are up to code and safe for employees, customers, vendors and partners. 

For over 40 years, the International Code Council (ICC) has celebrated advances in the construction of safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient buildings and homes during Building Safety Month. Together with its 64,000 members and professionals in the building construction, design and safety communities, government agencies, professional associations and nonprofits, the ICC promotes Building Safety Month to raise awareness about the importance of building safety as well as to promote the critical role modern building codes have in creating safer and more resilient communities.

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.

The 2022 theme for Building Safety Month 2022, Safety for All: Building Codes in Action, highlights the role building codes in ensuring the places where we live, work and play are as safe as possible.The enforcement of building codes allows communities to successfully prepare for disasters and protect them from future unforeseen incidents. Complying with building safety codes and the officials who enforce them can help communities mitigate the risks of injuries, property damage and even death should a disaster occur.

With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the lives of millions of individuals across the globe, safe building and resilient communities are essential now more than ever. Although the pandemic will be on our minds for a long time, it’s important to remember to prepare for other types of disasters that can devastate a community. Along with disaster preparedness, the goals of Building Safety Month include education on issues like water safety and sustainability. Additionally, looking towards the future with modern building codes and creating safe, reliable and healthy buildings by keeping the next generation of building safety professionals motivated is essential to the campaign.

Celebrating Building Safety Month 2022

building safety month

Throughout May, each week of Building Safety Month focuses on a different initiative:
  • Week 1 - Planning for a Safe and Sustainable Tomorrow: Week one of Building Safety Month focuses on the impact of energy use in our communities and innovative technologies that work to create a more sustainable future.
  • Week 2 - Exploring Careers in Building Safety: Week two covers the wide range of professions available in the building safety industry, from building inspectors to electrical and mechanical inspections. This week will also go over the importance of proper training and professional development and the ICC's Safety 2.0 program, which offers resources for those considering a career in the field.
  • Week 3 - Understanding the Four Phases of Emergency Management: Knowing how to properly prepare for natural disasters like floods, hurricanes and tornadoes increases the health and safety of the community. The Four Phases of Emergency Management include 1) Disaster Mitigation, 2) Disaster Preparedness, 3) Disaster Response and 4) Recovery from a Disaster.
  • Week 4 - Creating a Safe and Abundant Water Supply: Since clean water is the world's most precious commodity, week 4 discusses building, plumbing and green codes that help guard potable water for future generations. 

Building Safety Tips for the Workplace

Managing risks that could lead to injuries or accidents in the workplace is essential for businesses of all sizes. With so many building codes to adhere to and new ones popping up all the time, business owners may wonder if their organizations are “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 maintain code compliance, ensure workplace safety and continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
  • Properly clean and disinfect regulary. Clean surfaces using soap and water, including high touch surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, faucets, etc. Then, use a disinfectant to ensure these surfaces are free of germs.
  • Inspect walkways and parking lots. Check parking lots by looking for potholes, depressions and uneven walkways or wheel stops in parking spaces that need repairing. Provide proper marking for changes in elevation, parking stops 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 to further decrease the risk of slips, trips and falls. 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 that are hardwired and have 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. Every five years, a complete inspection and test should be completed by a Registered Professional Engineer (RPE), to evaluate critical components, such as capacity, structural stability, tiebacks for corrosion or hidden defects.
  • 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 set up a response team and develop an evacuation plan. Designate a trusted individual to call 911 and direct first responders to the location.
Keep in mind that the proper permits must be obtained prior to any renovations of commercial property. Always hire qualified and insured contractors to maintain the building, 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 business owners should continually to familiarize themselves with the 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 are dedicated to providing the right resources to create the most effective loss control program for your specific needs. Policyholders also have access to over 700 streaming video training materials that include workplace safety, transportation safety, active shooter, emergency preparedness, human resources and more.

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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