The Australian construction industry experiences a significant rate of annual fatalities and injuries. As a result, enhancing safety practices should be regarded as a top priority for the building sector. Building owners are responsible for ensuring that essential safety measures are incorporated into their buildings and maintained practically and reasonably. Furthermore, the safety measures must be inspected regularly, and the inspection records maintained by the building owner. Here are some top facts for commercial building owners to know about essential safety measures.
What Are the Essential Safety Measures?
Essential safety measures (ESM) refer to the basic life safety, fire and health aspects that are constructed or installed in a building to guarantee adequate levels of protection. Examples of ESM include firefighting equipment such as fire horse reel, fire extinguishers and sound-rated ductwork. It also includes amenities like mechanical ventilation and lighting.
Smoke and Heat Venting
The importance of smoke and heat vents, in case of a fire break out in a large commercial building, cannot be overstated. The vents can considerably improve the safety of a building because they prevent heat and smoke from getting trapped inside the structure. Therefore, heat can quickly vent out of the commercial building, thereby minimising the interior temperature. When heat vents out of a building, the likelihood of fire spreading laterally is reduced significantly. Besides, smoke inhalation is also a significant concern that causes fatalities in the event of a massive fire. Smoke vents allow smoke to escape instead of spreading inside the building and causing risks of inhalation. Moreover, designing a commercial building with provision of heat and smoke vents in mind increases visibility, hence enabling people to move out of the building quickly in case of a fire. The visibility also helps firefighters to navigate the building and extinguish the fire before it causes massive damages, injuries or even deaths.
Health and Amenity
Health and amenity aspects of a commercial building should be considered crucial just like fire safety features. Construction elements such as sound attenuation, lighting and ventilation, safe access and egress, and waterproofing should be inspected to ensure compliance with set safety and health standards.
A certified building inspector should check building plans to ensure accuracy and compliance. It is recommended that commercial building owners should not depart from the approved building plans so that they do not compromise on safety. For example, altering waterproofing treatment from a thin membrane to a conventional thick mortar bed can affect the dimensions of a balcony. Therefore, if such changes are to be implemented, then you must notify a building certifier for approval or rejection.