HAZCON will be at the Total Facilities Expo at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 6-7th April. Come and see us at Stand A37; we look forward to speaking with you.
Facility Managers can Struggle to Manage HSE in Many Buildings
Facility managers often have a difficult job in managing the safety of the buildings and grounds they are responsible for. Not only do they have to respond to the owner's and tenants' needs, they also have to ensure the ongoing safety of the people who perform work on their behalf as well as members of the public. On top of managing contractors, working at heights and in confined spaces, other aspects of facility management as described below are also a challenge.
Asbestos is also ever present issue for facility managers of many older buildings built before 1990. The buildings may have undergone refurbishment and renovation over the years, however, many uses of asbestos are hidden within wall cavities, behind or under coverings, in heating and cooling plant or passive fire protection. Having an up to date asbestos register also known as a "Div 5" provides facility managers with some confidence to plan and execute works knowing the attendant risks and costs.
Some 6000 buildings in Victoria have water based Cooling Towers, all of which are regulated by DHHS. All Cooling Tower owners or managers must ensure they have a Risk Management Plan (RMP) to prevent the development of legionella in the system. This risk management plan must be reviewed and audited every year and must address all the critical risks DHHS have identified. Companies fail audits and thus receive a call from the legionella team at DHHS because the either forgot to have regular audits or their service provider fails to meet the agreed operational plan.
Client complaints about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is another area that is a challenge to facility managers. Mould, high or low humidity, stuffiness from poor ventilation and temperature controls can be a major headache. It is also a challenge to convince occupiers or tenants that the IAQ is within acceptable levels when research has shown that 25% of the normal working population are uncomfortable or concern about IAQ in their working environment, even when the buildings are operating efficiently and are well designed.
Mould, especially in older buildings is difficult to eliminate although facility managers should consider the three conditions for mould growth, that being moisture, temperature and nutrients. The most actionable condition is moisture and in most cases HAZCON has encountered, that it is moisture ingress through faulty weather seals and poor air circulation in humid environments.
The other IAQ areas are associated with inadequately designed air conditioning systems. Office renovations sometimes fail to consider the changes the lay-out of an office will have on ventilation and temperature control. Increasing the density of people in an office environment can also contribute to poor IAQ as the CO2 levels can increase such that air circulation is incapable of introducing fresh air into the space. High CO2 can create a stifling atmosphere as well as cause lethargy in the people working in the environment. Many of these issues can be assessed and resolved by using experiences occupational hygienists.