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Construction Safety Considerations

Many considerations are taken into account when an organization decides to build. The building may be a new facility, an addition, or a re-build after a storm or fire. One of the key factors an organization focuses on is cost. Often when a contractor provides an estimate to the organization of what it will cost to build, many leaders are shocked. Because of this cost, the building committee will then begin cutting back their plans from what they originally wanted to what the organization can afford.

With this in mind, sometimes the committee will choose what is aesthetic over what is practical and needed. Early in the planning process, it is helpful if the building committee determines the areas that won't be compromised. Though it is not often the case, one of those areas should be safety and security.

Though cost is the largest factor for many leaders, the price of a life is invaluable. The following are several things that should be considered when building in order to keep the facility as safe and secure as possible.

  • Be sure you and the builder are clear on local and state codes. Every state and municipality have variations that if not met can lead to significant future issues and costs.
  • Seriously consider a monitored fire detection and sprinkler system for the building. If a fire breaks out and is able to be suppressed, the savings in both dollars and mission can be significant. Why build a brand new structure without fully protecting it?
  • Don't cut corners on storage space. Few organizations have enough space and therefore store hazardous materials in locations that are susceptible to fires. Have a "safe room" for flammable and combustible liquids that is away from sources of ignition.
  • Though many organizations rely heavily on volunteers, when considering major construction, leave the work to professionals. Many times volunteers work beyond their expertise and improper workmanship is often the source of construction failure and fires. In addition, if a building is destroyed because of poor workmanship, the organization or insurance company wouldn't be able to collect from a reputable construction company if the work was done by volunteers.
  • Protect yourself financially. Make sure the architect, builder and all sub-contractors show proof of insurance with limits equal to or greater than your current policy, and have sufficient errors and omissions coverage. An organization also should ask for a certificate of insurance naming them as an additional insured. Finally, an organization should check the financial viability of the contractor and builder. Make sure they have the financial strength to take on and complete the entire project. Pay them as work is completed versus everything up front. It also is a good idea to require that they be bonded.
  • Designate a person or committee from the organization who has the power to make quick project decisions. If this is not done, then the building process can slow down and cost more.
  • Consider the types of access you will have into your new facility. The best method is electronic entry. It is important only to provide access to people for the areas they need, when they need it.

When building a facility, do not cut corners that will compromise the safety of the people and the facility.


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