When it comes to the property industry, maintenance plays a huge and important role in the comfortable and safe day-to-day use of any property. Without the correct maintenance, buildings can easily become hazardous or even uninhabitable.
So, it is the role of the property maintenance manager to keep all those using a building safe and comfortable during times of use. However, it is often forgotten that whilst undertaking maintenance work it is also the maintenance managers responsibility to keep themselves, workmen and the public safe during these periods.
In this guide, we cover the various safety implications involved in the majority of a maintenance managers job.
External Paint Work & Guttering
With the various and often unforgiving elements to deal with, external paintwork and guttering often needs repair in order to protect the building and ensure the safe transfer of water away from the site.
Although clearing gutters and touching up paintwork can initially seem like a small job, when you realise the safety requirements behind these it can become somewhat of a hassle. However, by having a fundamental understanding of these you are best placed to quickly and simply apply best practices.
For example, the HSE often advise that whenever working from a height, for example when painting at height or clearing guttering, that scaffolding should be used. Depending on the circumstances, the individual that puts up the scaffolding may need a special licence, so it is worth checking this before going ahead.
When it comes to working at height it is often worth exploring whether there are options to avoid this. For example, there are extendable options for clearing gutters and painting which do not involve working at height.
Drainage is another common issue that a property maintenance manager is often required to deal with. Doing this produces its own host of potential hazards with their own safety requirements.
The first consideration is physically accessing the drainage. This is usually done via a manhole, which is often heavy and difficult to move. When doing this, ensure that you are wearing the correct protective equipment, such as gloves and that you have the right tools/support to physically access the manhole.
If you are coming into any physical contact with waste it is important that you cover any part of you that is at risk of picking up germs. You should also wear the correct protective gear to ensure that you do not breathe in anything that could potentially harm you.
If you are ever unsure about how safe a situation is when it comes to dealing with property drains, you should consult a professional.
Although the external of a building is likely to see more damage due to the impact of changing weather, internal work is often also required and requires its own safety considerations.
Although working at major heights is unlikely to be a concern internally, it is important to consider ladder safety even when undertaking fundamental tasks such as internal painting or changing a lightbulb.
As well as individually considering the various aspects of safety of property maintenance, it is important to take a holistic approach to site safety when there are risks involved.
For example, this may include blocking off any area or the entire site with temporary fencing. This ensures that you create a physical sign highlighting that it is dangerous to enter into that area.
If any of your maintenance work is on or obstructing a public highway then it is recommended that you follow the guidelines laid out in Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual. For example, by using Chapter 8 compliant safety barriers to highlight hazards to the public.
Concrete is an integral part of most buildings. Although concrete can often go many years without issue, over time issues can occur with the overall structure and strength of the material. This is especially true when a lot of stress is placed on the concrete over time, whether through excessive weight, movement or temperature changes.
It is worth visually checking concrete for any cracks or breaks which may be signs of damage.
In modern buildings, concrete is often reinforced with steel, making the overall structure more resilient to damage over time.
Clearly, there is a lot to consider when it comes to site safety, even when it is with reference to smaller jobs that may be undertaken as part of routine maintenance. This guide highlights some of the key safety aspects that need considering in order to keep yourself and others safe.