Safety Management for Residential Buildings

All, Miscellaneous, Facility Management

Facilities Managers have a moral responsibility towards providing a safe environment on site for the residents, tenants, and visitors of the building. Let’s look at a few measures that need to be kept in mind with respect to safety management in residential buildings.

 

 

Fire Safety –

The first and most important measure in safety management. To begin with, the equipment that every building mandatorily needs to have is fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, smoke alarms, fire panels, smoke control systems, fire hydrants, emergency power supply, mechanical ventilation, and emergency exit signs. The Facility Manager has to perform regular fire safety inspections to make sure that there are zero fire hazards and the fire protection systems are active and functioning properly. Fire drills and training should be done on a periodic basis as well to train the occupants and staff on how to act if there is an emergency. There should always be a fire prevention plan as well where there is a fire strategy that is updated with all the national and state-based fire safety regulations and standards with respect to the training, maintenance, and protection equipment.

 

 

Safety and Security –

In security, the first step is to ensure that systems are functional and that everything can be monitored. This includes the following tasks:

There should be external lighting on all entry and exit points and the parking lots

All the security doors should have deadbolts and quality locks especially in the areas of the building that are not used frequently

Security alarm systems should be installed which include door and window alarms, motion sensors and breaking glass detectors

Security cameras should be connected to a centralized video recording and viewing system which should be monitored by a security staff 24/7

A biometric device should be a mandatory part of all residential buildings, this will keep a track on the number of visitors entering and exiting the building and also help avoid trespassing

 

Dangerous Goods –

Storage of certain flammable substances like paints, paint thinners, fuel, kerosene, cleaning chemicals, etc. within the premises of the building has the possibility of causing damage to the property and the health of the tenants. The guideline followed by FMs for the management of these goods includes:

 

Availability of (MSDS) Material Safety Data Sheets of the goods at any given point of time

Providing appropriate storage, signage, and seclusion of the goods in accordance with the MSDS

Awareness of the category and volume of all the goods used at the property and arrangements for their disposal

Prior arrangements for cleaning of diesel and oil spills

Storage of flammable goods in a locked fireproof cabinet

Ensuring that the service providers are trained in the management of the dangerous goods

 

Indoor Air Quality –

Poor maintenance of indoor air quality (IAQ) such as cooling, ventilation, lighting, etc. can lead to health-related ailments like dry skin, allergies, sore throat, and fatigue. The objective should be to create a balance in the air temperature, movement, and relative humidity and for that, it is important for an FM to establish an IAQ profile. This can be done through various parameters, by setting standards after discussing it with the residents and tenants; keeping in check their behavioral practices. The parameters could be in the form of implementing an HVAC program with individual temperature controls for different seasons and creating a facility user guide to educate residents about its operations.

 

Thermal Comfort –

Appended are the ways safety management can be considered through Thermal Comfort:

Inspect the condition of windows, seals and frames regularly

Check if the ceiling tiles are all inappropriate condition with zero gaps in them and the state and suitability of the roof insulation

Inspect the perimeter air leakage

Inspect floor - wall - ceiling joints for air gaps

Wherever possible, redirect conditioned air to more needed areas (i.e. by closing ducts)

The advanced strategies include thermographic (infra-red) surveys of the building fabrics and roof to check for the heat loss. The strategies should be based around building infiltration, insulation, and shading.

 

Noise and acoustics –

Managing noise and acoustics in safety management is very important as noise has a huge impact on the liveability and the amenity values of a place. Several issues related to noise can be reduced using various measures as mentioned below:

 

Secluding the noise-based equipment from the quiet areas

Usage of sound barriers and sound-absorbing materials for the areas with the highest decimal of noise

Restraining the transmission of noise from the inside as well as the outside by using low sound transmission walls in between the noisy and quiet areas

Make more usage of insulation and sound-absorbing materials and surfaces which decrease reverberation

 

Emergency Management –

Every facility manager should have an emergency management plan in place which outlines the key responsibilities of every member of the team. Besides that, an emergency management plan also includes:

 

Building safety measures with an emergency contact list

Stages of evacuation procedures

Clear signage and procedures for building users

Display of evacuation plan on every floor

Maintenance records for fire safety measures in place

Availability of an updated version of the annual fire safety statement

 

A well-managed building will be able to attain an orderly evacuation in the least possible amount of time in case of an emergency.