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Health and safety compliance - asbestos, legionella and regulations

Asbestos and legionella are globally-reported facilities problems, hitting the headlines in the trade press and general media alike. Safeguards against these deadly issues need to be tightly upheld in order to avoid the potential for loss of human life, but a facilities manager is also responsible for ensuring precautions against a whole host of other health and safety regulations. While accidents may happen, it is the facilities manager’s job to ensure that all possible precautions have been taken to reduce the likelihood of injury. The cost of non-compliance to health and safety regulations can lead to fines, prison or even death, so finding a system to manage this is imperative.

Asbestos

Asbestos was a common building material in the last century due its strength, flexibility and affordability. While not a high risk when lying dormant inside wall cavities or ceiling tiles and in good condition, once disturbed inhalation of the fibres can cause of severe respiratory problems and therefore must be closely monitored. Facilities management software can assist in the process by helping engineers to avoid asbestos containing materials (ACM) and demonstrating compliance to health and safety law. Service Work’s own system, QFM, has an asbestos management module, enabling creation of a central register to record data about ACM including location, type, condition and risk. It then embeds this information into FM work schedules including details about the condition inspections / surveys and automated alerts to warn operatives of asbestos locations, providing an audit trail of work carried out and asbestos management.

Legionella

Legionella bacteria occur in natural water sources, but man-made hot and cold water systems provide an environment where it can flourish. Legionnaire’s Disease is easily contracted from contaminated water by drinking or even inhaling tiny water droplets. While a problem for facilities of all types, hospitals in particular must uphold stringent compliance to regulations. The HSE (Health & Safety Executive, Britain’s health and safety enforcement body), stated in a ruling: “The legionella control failures we identified [at the hospital] are made all the more stark by the fact that those most at risk of contracting legionella were amongst the most vulnerable in our society.”

Checks must be performed to monitor water temperature at all points in its journey around the building. A CAFM system can reduce the risk and aid compliance by scheduling  checks in line with legal requirements, and specialist health and safety functionality can also provide automated notification of regulatory legislation changes to prevent lapses due to lack of knowledge.

Everything Else

In addition to dealing with these ‘headline’ issues, and managing all the services to support the organisation, a facilities manager must also deal with a host of other regulations to ensure the organisation is running smoothly and safely. It is these that have the possibility of flying under the radar. From mandatory checks to ensure assets are functioning correctly such as emergency lighting or fire extinguishers, FMs must also be aware be aware of expiring warranties, insurance certification, fleet MOTs, contractor permits, skills certifications and more. In the UK, sentencing guidelines have recently changed to consider sentencing offending organisations based on culpability and the likelihood of harm – it is no longer based on actual injuries sustained. Therefore, steps must be taken to protect company, directors, and occupants by proving measures have been taken to comply with regulations. A CAFM system manages all of this for the facilities team – storing the required information and providing warnings when expiry dates are looming. QFM, for example, keeps data secure and can produce an audit trail of actions to prove that steps were taken to meet the regulations in question.

 

To find out more about keeping your organisation compliant and avoiding injury, please contact your local Service Works office for more information or email info@swg.com.

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