The recent closure of an aged care centre in the UK has brought to the fore the issue of provisions for safety in places where they are needed the most. It is indeed a matter to be concerned about that in most buildings and public places the two key aspects of safety and health are either neglected or not given the priority they should be assigned. If you are in any way involved in managing a building or other premises, you should consider hiring the services of a good health & safety consultant, who would be able to provide all the inputs that you need in this area.
Safety Comes from Foresight
The concept of declaring a building safe or not is built upon several factors. Even before the construction is undertaken, the structural stability of the building planned has to be ascertained. This is generally the responsibility of the architect and the structural engineer. Elements like the stability in the event of an earthquake are also checked out. But when the building gets constructed and occupied, many agencies have to inspect and accord their approval from the safety point of view. But what the health & safety consultant brings to the table is a holistic view of the safety aspect. There are everyday drills like how to react in the case of a fire or if the lift stops suddenly, and passengers are stuck inside and so on. There are primarily 2 aspects to these checks. The first would be to check if the basic provisions are in place. In this example, does the lift have the emergency provision to bring the lift manually to the immediate next floor and the door to open without having to wait for an expert? Are all fire fighting equipment in place and are they periodically checked if they are in working condition?
But above all these, there are cases where the people in the building have to be trained or made aware of how to use the safety provisions. The incident quoted in the first paragraph above is very much a case in point since the inmates of the home were not aware how to use an emergency switch!
A Healthy Environment is Mandatory
Now, while safety is being considered, the health and hygiene aspect cannot be separated from it. The first requirement in any building where public gathers or even for a building where hundreds of employees come to work every day is to maintain it spotlessly clean. There must be a garbage removal procedure in place and a mechanism to monitor the efficient functioning of the cleaning and garbage clearance activities. In the case of industrial units, there are other precautions to be taken with regard to making the whole place healthy and the environment unpolluted. Many of these are mandated under laws governing the safety and health of the employees in any enterprise. In places like a shopping mall where people frequent in large numbers, the health & safety consultant will frame the guidelines on what steps should be taken to stay in conformity with the requirement.