Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Safe Building PART I

Planning a New Facility
It’s not unusual in the years following the construction of a new facility, to think of all the changes you would have made had you done things differently.  Wouldn’t it be easier if these things had come up before construction?  If you are fortunate enough to be planning for a new Public Works facility, here are a few Loss Control related items to keep in mind during the planning phase.
             Building Materials – Consider life expectancy, fire resistance, and long term projected insurance costs.  Discuss with your insurance agent.
             Sprinkler Systems – Consider the benefits of adding an automatic sprinkler system in structures, even when they are not required.
             Fire doors – Electro-magnetic door catches allow the doors to be open during working hours; in the event of fire alarm system activation, they automatically swing closed.
               Fire extinguishers - Consider built-in cabinets to reduce the potential for fire extinguisher theft and keep them available when needed.
             Life safety – Emergency exit signs, emergency lights, and panic hardware on exit doors must be incorporated. Consider what type of backup will be in place for emergency lighting.  Will the backup be a generator or individual battery backups?
             Flammable liquid storage  - If storing flammables, at minimum you will need UL-listed flammable cabinets designed for this purpose.  For large quantities, you may need a flammable liquid storage room, which will include a raised threshold, explosion-resistant wiring, an explosion-resistant door, a blow-out wall, and electrical grounding/bonding.
             Carbon Monoxide/Ventilation (Mn State Rule)
             Alarm systems – You might include fire detection, smoke detection, sound detection, light beam and perimeter protection systems.  A good alarm system can mean all the difference in protecting your property from fire, vandalism, or burglary.
             ADA requirements. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and updates should be strictly followed. The act covers all aspects of building accessibility for disabled persons.
             Interior windows – The placement of windows in interior office walls can reduce the potential for sexual harassment allegations.
             Documentation – documentation involves certificates of insurance, endorsements naming the city as an “additional insured,” and legal contracts. Your city attorney should be involved in drafting and reviewing contract language.
There are numerous resources your city can reach out to for assistance in planning a new Public Works building from a Loss Control perspective. Contact your city's insurance agent, city attorney, building official or LMCIT loss control staff for further help. 
Following these steps can save your city time and money in the future, as well as help protect our most valuable resource:  the employee.  Part of II will include tips for ergonomics-related tools and equipment, as well as the prevention of slips, trips, and falls.
by Matt Columbus

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