Spending your hard earned money to rent an apartment is a decision that should be taken after careful considerations and inspections. Don’t be moved by beautiful finishing and décor. Taking the time to make a few maintenance checks can make the difference between enjoying your stay in that particular Facility or counting the days eagerly till your tenancy expires!

Here are 5 major signs to look out for during a property inspection.

  1. Faulty Wiring

Look out for wiring connections that look like they were quickly added or look like they do not flow with the general décor of the rest of the building. There could be an underlying electrical fault the owner is trying to cover up. This is most common in older building.

  1. Sagging Roofs and Ceilings

It may sound strange or out of place, but insist you want to see the roof area. Usually you may need to enter a confined space or climb stairs or ladders to get access to the roof. If you are unable to do this yourself, get someone you trust to accompany you and inspect it. Missing or torn patches of felting and missing flashings are a potential leakage problem. If not repaired, rainwater will seep through and wet the ceilings below and cause sagging. From the inside of the house, check for circular colored spots of water and rippled ceiling sheets. These are signs of roof leakage.

  1. Poor drainage

Poorly laid internal and external drainage can have you regretting you moved into a property in a matter of days!

Check that water drains away from the structure and its perimeter fence. A good rule of thumb in Nigeria is to always inspect properties for rent during the rainy season.

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  1. Plumbing Issues

The most common issues with plumbing includes leaks and outdated or poorly matched installations. A typical example is using PVC pipes to run hot water lines. Some minor plumbing issues can always be attended to but major ones will require total system replacement. Also check for water marks and stains, and corrosion marks around bath tubs and showers.

  1. Poorly Maintained Premises

Check the general state of maintenance of the premises. Many times the façade and common areas look good but you may find shocking signs of poor maintenance in hidden areas. Overflowing garbage, unkempt gardens and dirty light fittings are just a few pointers to a generally poor maintenance culture.

When it comes to renting, a little caution can save you a lot of headache and trouble.

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Chemicals are a part of our daily lives but are laced with many hazards.

When used properly and in the way they were created for, most chemicals are safe and actually make life easier for us. Improper use leads to different degrees of injuries and loss.

Here’s how you can protect yourself and your team from the effects of wrongly using chemicals:

  1. All chemicals, without exception, should be labelled. Labelling should detail: name, strength, manufacturer’s name, emergency information and expiry date.
  2. Create a detailed register of all chemicals used in your organization by department. Note the quantity and location.
  3. Request Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) from the chemicals supplier and keep a proper record of all the data sheets. Staff should be adequately trained on how to read and identify chemicals listed on the MSDS.
  4. Follow handling instructions to the letter.
  5. Use recommended PPE always.
  6. Do not keep food or drink close to chemicals.
  7. Keep Flammable chemicals away from heat sources and direct sunlight.
  8. Follow instructions for mixing carefully.
  9. Always clean up thoroughly and wash your hands after handling chemicals.

How do you think a client, customer or resident feels when they walk into your well maintained high rise building, move to use the elevator and it either doesn’t work or traps them somewhere along their journey?

Obviously the would not be too impressed with your management skills and they will make their opinions known and very loudly too.

Some elevator problems are easier to detect than others. Downtime and slow movement are the usual signs of a more serious problem.

Here are a few telltale signs your elevator is about to fail:

  1. Slow Movement / Longer Wait Time

This is usually the most common indication that the control system is developing problems.  The elevator speed should be checked regularly and at intervals even outside of routine servicing schedules. Compare the time it takes the elevator to move from ground floor to the top floor to the manufacturer’s specifications. Note that the older the elevator, the more likelihood of slowing down as time goes by. A more permanent and proactive solution would be to change from a relay based system to a microprocessor based control system.

 

  1. Poor Quality Power Supply

Modern elevators are filled with equipment that are sensitive to power supplied. If the quality pf power is poor or fluctuates rapidly it will interfere with performance and eventually cause expensive to repair damage.

Check your records to detect if there have been past frequent incidents of motor burn outs and overheating of other electronic equipment in the premises. If that has been the case you should quickly arrange for a power quality audit.

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  1. Repeated Breakdowns

This is a fairly common indicator of an impending major downtime and service failure. It points to aging of the essential components of the elevator system. An elevator that is having repeated breakdown may require overhauling or outright modernization.

One of the most common symptoms of a system in need of overhaul or modernization is increasing service call frequencies. As components wear and age, they more readily go out of adjustment, either shutting down the system or interfering with its operation.

All things considered, a wise facility manger will ensure he/she keeps track of the frequency of all problems. Periodic review of the records will help foresee bigger problems before they occur.

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  1. Hiding your home key under an entrance doormat because most burglars would check there first.
  1. Hiding keys anywhere else outside. Rather than that, consider giving your spare key to a neighbor if you are going to be away for a while.
  1. Leaving a Ladder accessible to burglars. Keep all windows locked from inside and ladders secure in a garage or locked shed.
  1. Using basic main entry doors and locks. Locks that are complicated and take a longer time to pick would discourage burglars.
  1. Providing too much coverage in your garden. You could be ambushed by burglars hiding behind large bushes, trees and other objects. Ensure you have a clear view of your entire garden.
  1. Poor external lighting. Burglars can easily blend into poorly lit areas and surprise you. Consider installing motion sensor lights outdoors.
  1. Leaving valuable items near the window. This is one of the oldest tricks burglars use. Keep portable valuable like laptops and phones away from the window.
  1. Leaving all the lights off while away. This is always a dead giveaway. Consider installing lights with timers instead so it give the impression someone is home.

Remember, when it comes to your home, you can never be too careful.

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Even if you are not directly involved in Facility Maintenance activities, you must have come across fire extinguishers at some point and would likely have one or more in your home, office or vehicle.

A fire extinguisher is a hand held, cylindrical shaped device used to extinguish small fires in emergency situations. There are generally 2 types of fire extinguishers: cartridge operated and stored pressure.

Note that these portable fire extinguishers are NOT intended for large out of control fires which endanger or limit the escape of the user or where there is a clear and serious risk of an explosion.

You may have also observed that these fire extinguishers come in different colors and sizes. Be assured that these colorings are not for aesthetics alone. There are actually very important reasons why they are colored differently. In this article we look at what the coloring means and why this knowledge can make the difference between arresting a fire outbreak and aggravating it with disastrous consequences.

Classes of Fire

  1. Class A Fire

Fire where the fuel is solids such as paper, wood, clothing, plastics and so on. Water works best for this kind of fire.

2. Class B Fire

Flammable or combustible liquids like petrol and kerosene. This kind of fire is extinguished by smothering (cutting off the oxygen supply) using foam extinguishers.

3. Class C Fire

Fire ignited by energized electricity. A non-conductive extinguishing agent such as carbon dioxide is best but only after cutting off power supply to the affected area.

4. Class D Fire

Combustible metal fires. The most common type of metal fire involves Titanium and Magnesium. Dry powder works best for this class of fire by heat absorption and smothering the oxygen supply. Do not use water to attempt fighting metal fires.

5. Class K Fire

Fires involving the various kinds of cooking oil and animal fat and are associated with kitchens. Saponification still remains the quickest and most effective method for fighting kitchen flames. Another option is Purple-K (PKP), a dry chemical fire suppression agent and is known as another very effective extinguishers for kitchen fires.

Color Coding of Fire Extinguishers

  • Red: extinguishing medium is water. Absolutely not recommended for electrical and liquid fires as it will aggravate the situation.
  • Cream: uses foam. This method was invented by Russian engineer / chemist Aleksandr Loksan in 1902. The components are organic solvents, foam stabilizers, surfactants and corrosion inhibitors.
  • Blue: Chemical Powder. Popularly known as the most versatile fire extinguisher. Usually labelled ABC for classes A, B and C fires. The chemical composition differs depending on the class of fire for which it is to be used. This fire extinguisher will leave a residue. It is also not advised to expose yourself to the fumes for extended periods of time
  • Black: Carbon Dioxide (CO2). They contain only carbon dioxide gas under high pressure. Ideal for sensitive electrical equipment as it will not leave a residue unlike powder extinguishers.
  • Yellow: Wet Chemical Powder. Mostly Suitable for Class A and K fires. The major component is a potassium solution. The mist cools the fire lowering the temperature, then the potassium reacts with the cooking oil in a process known as saponification. The result is a layer of soapy substance over the oil. Not at all recommended for electrical equipment and flammable gases and liquids (petrol etc.)

In 2004, the prevailing fire extinguisher color coding regulation changed to BS EN3. Before then the entire cylinder would be red or black and so on. Now, all cylinders are red but have a colored band to show the class of fire they can be used for. Please refer to the illustration below.

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It is important to always note the class of fire before picking up a fire extinguisher. Wrong application of fire extinguishers can lead to severe injuries and even fatalities.

 

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Is Safety Expensive?

“The safety of the people shall be the highest law” – Marcus Tullius Cicero (Roman Philosopher)

Getting the best out of your workforce is not always a matter of throwing more money at them or having strict monitoring policies and procedures in place. It would not be farfetched to say that every worker would value his safety and indeed life above all else. As a business or facility owner it is your responsibility to provide an enabling environment for those who carry out the various tasks that make your business what it is. These people include the technicians, accountants, drivers, cleaners, managers, vendors, customers and even yourself.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that “every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease. Every 15 seconds, 153 workers have a work-related accident. Every day, 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases – more than 2.3 million deaths per year. 317 million accidents occur on the job annually”.

Grim statistics indeed.

Is Safety More Expensive Than An Accident?

Safety and the equipment that go with it costs money and that is a fact that cannot be avoided. On the other hand accidents also cost money, much more in fact. Commonly reported accidents depending on the particular industry in question include falls, crushing injuries, puncture wounds, electric shocks, electrocution and fire.

Let’s take a typical example of fire outbreak which is something we can all relate to.

Company XYZ Limited is a furniture making company and has its head office in Victoria Island, Lagos and its workshop at Ebute Metta also in Lagos. The head office is well furnished and equipped with state of the art fire detection equipment. The workshop does not have any fire protection because the one previously installed malfunctioned years back and was disabled.

Several requests by the workshop manager for a replacement, even if a cheaper one, have been turned down because the funds are needed elsewhere. The cost for this cheaper alternative is put at 75,000NGN.

It’s a few days to Christmas and the workshop is filled with customers’ orders waiting for onward transportation to the head office the next morning. Unfortunately there is a fire incident that night after close of work. The guards on duty try putting out the flames and two of them are injured in the process. Eventually the fire is put out by the Federal Fire Service.

Which would have been cheaper? Replace the fire detection system or pay for repairs of the severely damaged workshop, replacement of burnt materials including customers’ orders and medical care for the two guards?

The issue should be how to create a safe working environment with the required financial commitments and still keep overhead costs within limits.

Tips for Controlling Your Costs on Safety

In any human working environment the potential for accidents is a daily reality. However, a proactive approach would limit the occurrence of accidents and the resulting expense.

Safety is a collective responsibility
One person in an organization cannot monitor and implement safety on their own. The entire staff need to be involved and made to understand the impact of the actions they take on their own personal safety and that of their colleagues.

Training
Training is critical for passing information across to your team. The benefits of a well-trained and safety aware workforce far outweigh the costs of training them.

Communication and feedback System
An aspect of safety often overlooked especially in the Facility management field is informing workers about hazardous chemicals and dangerous equipment on site. This is especially risky for new staff that are being deployed to a particular location. Once they have been trained, your communication and feedback system should be open and allow for quick ease of relating issues.

For example, if your feedback system keeps getting information of a particular kind of illness among the staff working in the same location, that should raise a red flag. Without a feedback system, such information would be lost and you would be spending more money on repeated treatment of the same illness.

Appoint an in-house Safety Officer
You may decide to hire an external safety specialist but it is also advisable to have someone in-house responsible for monitoring safety on all your locations. Don’t leave this task for “everybody” because as they say, “Everybody’s’ job is done by Nobody”.

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References:

  1. ilo.org