Self-inspections and how they provide safety
The appearance of a facility's buildings and grounds helps form the first impression visitors have. Families looking to place their loved ones, or coming to visit, use these impressions to help determine if they can trust the care of their family to the hands of your organization. The buildings and grounds also contain the bulk of the assets owned by an organization. Like any asset, they must be maintained to hold their value and to be safe for use by both clients and visitors.
Periodic safety and maintenance inspections of buildings and grounds allow for proactive identification and correction of potentially hazardous conditions. This also allows preventive maintenance to be used in lieu of reactive maintenance. In the long run, it is less expense to provide regular preventive maintenance and address identified issues before they lead to a failure. These inspections may also help minimize property damage, limit liability claims and ensure the safety of residents, employees and visitors.
Inspections may be used to evaluate:
- Building conditions (roofs, exterior walls, etc.) to help prevent water intrusion, mold and structural degradation
- Grounds and exterior walking surfaces to help prevent slips and falls from uneven surfaces
- Interior stairs and walkways to help prevent slips and falls
- Electrical and HVAC system maintenance to help minimize failures and ignition sources
- Kitchen/Cooking safety to help assure sanitation, hygiene and fire prevention
- Fire detection and suppression systems to help assure that they are in good working order to help minimize the impact of any fires that may start
- Storage practices to help minimize fire load and reduce tripping hazards
- Building life safety features (emergency lighting, exit signs, clear paths of egress, stairway enclosures) to help assure that residents can be evacuated or protected in the event of an emergency
If you are unsure of where to start, click here to download a sample self-inspection form. This form may be used to guide and document self-inspections.
Inspections should also be completed prior to and shortly after any severe weather events. This can help assure that the facility is prepared for severe weather and that any damage caused by these weather conditions can be addressed promptly. For example, when heavy rain and wind are in the forecast, assuring that roof drains are clear and that exterior furniture and fixtures are secure can help prevent damage from water intrusion and flying objects.
A well maintained facility can make a positive first impression for new residents and their families. Making use of self-inspections is one step that management can take to make this a reality. Thorough inspections completed on a routine basis help protect residents, visitors and employees. Management can demonstrate their commitment to their residents, employees and visitors by training staff to complete inspections, providing the time and resources needed to complete inspections, and following up quickly when issues are identified.
Scott Harkins is the Senior Vice President, Risk Control Services at Glatfelter Insurance Group.