One of the most common phrases we hear in the business continuity and life safety industry is “Why do I need it? We are doing fine as is.” Many building owners think that as long as there isn’t an emergency in their building or they haven’t experienced one before then they don’t need to implement a Life Safety Plan. This thought process couldn’t be further from the truth and throughout this blog, I will outline exactly why that mindset is holding your building back from truly being prepared for an unexpected incident and why building owners need to get on board with life safety.
Why is Life Safety Important?
As a building owner, the safety of every single person that walks into your building is your responsibility. When the building owner drops the ball on ensuring life safety, you not only put your tenants, employees and visitors at risk, you also put yourself at risk. In addition to the obvious safety issues, there are major legal implications when building owners neglect life safety as there are minimum requirements, such as the one required by OSHA, that all buildings must meet, otherwise they run the risk of being fined. In addition to being fined, building owners can also be sued if an incident occurs in their building and they failed to meet minimum requirements. This can create reputational damage that is difficult to come back from.
Examples of plans that all buildings should have include:
- Life Safety Plan
- Fire Prevention Plan
- Emergency Action Plan
- Business Continuity Plan
To read more on requirements for commercial real estate, click here.
Learning from These Buildings’ Mistakes
There have been a few buildings that have unfortunately, learned the hard way what can happen when you fail to implement life safety plans, or just failure to keep them up to date.
For one Pittsburgh high rise, due to it being an “older building” it was exempt from installing sprinkler systems throughout the building. Unfortunately, during a fire in May of 2017, the life of 75 year old Mary Robinson was claimed due to not having a sprinkler system on the upper floors. In May of 2016, it was found that the building had no violations, because sprinkler systems for that specific building was not required.
For many building owners, only if it is required will they implement life safety measures. However, while there were no legal implications for this building, there have been serious reputational reproductions. As you can imagine, people are skeptical about living in a building that does not have proper life safety precautions put in place. This is a classic example of why building owners need to not only meeting the minimum requirements, but actually putting the safety of their tenants, employees and visitors first.
Another example of buildings that didn’t meet requirements and ended up costing the lives of others is a construction company and a staffing agency in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The conditions of the buildings were found to be poor and there was a lack of safety training, as well as blocked passageways and the floor was at risk for collapse. As a result, when the building collapsed both Hultgren Construction faced a little under $100,000 in fines and Command Center, Inc. faced $114,000 in fines. One person died in the collapse, while others were trapped.
In addition, a CVS Pharmacy in Red Hook, NY was fined $40,000 in 2013 because it did not have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for employees to follow during an emergency. There were similar violations found throughout other CVS pharmacies in prior years.
Protect Your Building
The best thing you can do as a building owner is to invest in life safety. In addition to ensuring that your building remains compliant, you simply cannot put a price tag on a human life. By choosing to not put life safety as your top priority, you are opening yourself up for violations, fines and potential law suits as well as risking the lives of your tenants, employees and anyone who enters your building. As a building owner, it can be difficult to keep up with regulations and requirements, many credit being busy as the main reason why they don’t meet requirements, however companies like Preparis are here to help ensure that you are able to create plans that meet not only all local, state and federal regulations, but ensure that your building and everyone who enters it are safe.
To request a demo of Preparis, click here.