Get Your Tenant to Pay Attention to Building Safety
While no one can guarantee an accident-free environment, it’s essential for property managers to enhance tenant’s and employee’s safety awareness.
It’s also the property manager’s responsibility to minimize any potential risks, hazards, and injuries to both tenants and employees. It’s the property manager who must promote, educate, and maintain a safe and healthy living and working environment.
A worthy safety program is accomplished through an appropriate building design, thorough staff training, and emergency response process with comprehensive policies.
More importantly, implementing an enforceable building safety and security program can minimize exposure to lawsuits, reduce liability, workers compensation and/or property insurance premiums.
Identify Your Building Safety Issues
It’s important for property manager and maintenance people to proactively identify and investigate any safety-related issues. Thus, we recommend management staff performing the following tasks consistently:
- Daily building walk through by management staffs;
- Annual cross building inspections (if your company own or manage more than one property) by property manager, maintenance, facilities staff, and human resources representative;
- Annual unit inspections by property managers and lead maintenance staff;
- Preventive maintenance schedule and inspections;
Some insurance carriers may also request to perform an annual risk management site inspection. In some occasions, outside agencies such as the Department of Building Inspection or Department of Public Works may also conduct inspections to confirm the properties are in compliance. And the owner or management agent will perform their due diligence and maintain the building in a safe condition.
A Building Walkthrough Safety Checklist
When management team performs building walk through, they should focus on and check on the following items:
- Any potential tripping or slipping hazards;
- Any non-functioning lightings such as exit sign/emergency lights combo;
- Any trouble signal from the fire alarm panel system;
- Any obstructed egresses or fire exits;
- Any doors not closing properly or completely;
- Any broken glasses;
- Any standing water or evidence of leaking;
Additionally, maintenance staffs should assure a proper storage of hazardous materials, provide proper tools, personal protective equipment (PPE) and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to staffs, and last but not least, address any unsafe work practices in a timely manner.
Fire Protection is Critical
Tenant education is key to fire prevention. The best time to distribute fire safety information is at the lease signing and orientation session. You can send reminders via your property management software. During the annual inspection, if hoarding and cluttering at the units is being identified, management should address the issue seriously and timely by giving tenants a reasonable timeline to take corrective action.
Each unit and all common areas must have working smoke detectors. It is recommended that management tests the smoke detectors while they conduct unit inspection. If any smoke detector is found to be defective or disabled, management should treat it an urgent work order for repair or replacement.
If a tenant intentionally disabled the smoke detector in his or her unit, take this very seriously. Issue the tenant a lease violation notice since his or her behavior jeopardizes the building safety. In the event of fire, tenants should use stairwells instead of an elevator.
Thus, it is critical that evacuation plans and instructions are posted in hallways of all buildings to ensure tenants are aware of the location of the nearest fire exit(s) to his/her unit.
Also show your tenants where fire alarm pull stations are and emphasize the consequences if one of these is pulled as a false alarm when there is no fire.
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