Minimising risk across your buildings through scheduled servicing and accreditation: Know your responsibilities
Author and editor – Kieran Balmaceda Technical Advisory – Lee Wren
Consider the following:
- How confident are you in the reliability and readiness of your building’s fire safety systems?
- What happens if or when there is a fire?
- Is your contractor reliable? Can you be assured of their competency or qualifications?
- Where are your buildings exposed to liability? Can you rectify that?
- How are you optimising processes to minimise disruption and cost?
Each of these questions feeds back into the web of responsibilities Facility Managers and Building Owners have in maintaining their risk profile and mitigating factors which contribute to risk and emergency.
Given the heightened concern over building safety, particularly in relation to building fires, containment and occupant safety in recent times, there are a range of concerns for Building Owners and Facility Managers to ensure that their responsibilities are swiftly met and provide an encompassing view of a building’s risk profile, maintenance of safety features and an assurance of reliable and competent service delivery by the contractors which provide testing, inspection and certification.
In this breakdown, we’ll walk through these key responsibilities and allow you to more effectively fulfil your obligations to building safety. These responsibilities, specified by industry regulations and law, ultimately involve the ability to guarantee that all safety measures and features throughout your buildings can reliably fulfill their intended purpose when required, maximising life safety for your occupants.
Much of the preventative response is in the regular inspection, testing and certification of safety features and equipment throughout the site, including:
- Building Fire Integrity
- Means of Egress
- Fire-Fighting Services and Equipment
- Air Handling Systems
- Automatic Fire-Detection and Alarm Systems
- Occupant Warning Systems
- Standby Power Supply Systems
- Building Clearance and Fire Appliances
- Building Use and Application
And other measures depending on the site. Inspection and testing are crucial processes designed to cover:
- Wear & Tear
- Documenting and addressing faults
- General housekeeping
Inspection, testing and maintenance of safety elements can occur at any of the following intervals, depending on applicable legislation in your state. Australian Standard AS 1851-2012 specifies the following intervals, which are prescribed depending on the element undergoing inspection or testing:
Requirements may differ in to a certain degree between states. In this case, we recommend getting in touch with a registered safety measures practitioner, fire safety technician or building assessor to understand your obligations and devise an optimal way to manage your obligations under law.
If you require testing of your building or site’s safety measures, you can contact our Property Risk team through the button below to discuss your requirements:
Guaranteeing competency and quality
Contractors, under the third category, are an important resource to coordinate. More so, it is in your best interest to find a provider that can prove their competency and guarantee the reliability of their work and assessment.
This may not appear so simple, but there are guidelines, like the following from the Victorian Building Authority, that should give you a framework to satisfy these concerns.
They state at a “competent person” is an individual “who has acquired – through training, qualification or experience (or a combination of them) – the knowledge and skills enabling the person to perform the task correctly.”
Not all qualifications are the same however, so it is also advised that “consideration must be given to their qualifications, the training they have received relevant to the task at hand, and their previous experience in doing similar tasks.”
A membership with and accreditation by the Fire Protection Association of Australia is another strong indicator of competency and a reliable track record.
Effectively coordinate people and resources
When we consider the human aspect, we can see that risk management and response occurs across three key participant groups, two of which are dependent on the actions of Building Owners and Facility Management:
It is the responsibility of Building Owners and Managers to ensure that all procedure and applicable legislation is adhered to, coordinating the following interrelated groups to aid in meeting these responsibilities.
Technicians: Contractors or service providers that test, maintain and report on the integrity of safety elements according to building regulations or legislative criteria, including the Building Code of Australia (BCA). Here, it is essential to guarantee that your supplier, as stated above, can meet a demonstrable standard of competency and quality.
Occupiers: Tenants and other groups who utilise or frequent the building, from businesses to janitorial staff. In an emergency, you’ll be expected to coordinate with them according to emergency management plans. Training is also a major factor here, as life safety depends on emergency preparedness and ability to direct occupants.
No matter the circumstance, it is essential to develop and maintain robust safety systems that align to leading industry practice. Speaking for Hendry, our registered practitioners are capable of conducting the range of necessary inspections, testing and verification to guarantee reliable and efficient safety features for the long-term.
Our Property Risk team can service the full range of Safety Measures, Emergency Planning and Property Risk Assessment responsibilities to ensure a holistic view to satisfy the necessary regulatory requirements. You can get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 975 371 to discuss a comprehensive testing, certification and inspection plan for your assets.