As commercial heating and ventilation experts, we see a lot of different systems, setups, and situations in our daily work. Most of the sites we visit are ones we maintain on a regular basis, and so we’re able to make sure everything is up to code and address any issues as soon as we spot them. But that’s not always the case. Some of the buildings we’re called out to are either emergency situations or sites that need a lot of work done, and in this case there are often safety concerns around the equipment. And when the building manager decides to take the job in house, we will leave safety recommendations for them to follow. But what happens when we leave the site, and come back to see nothing has been done?
Why Do Unsafe Sites Happen?
Sadly this is something that happens more often than you would think. We will visit a site as part of a survey, or to consult on a problem, and we will find several problems. Things like unsafe gas boilers in a block of flats, for example. This kind of thing is very common, and it’s our job to flag this up as it can be a huge health and safety hazard for people living or working in the building.
So we will take note of it and pass our concerns onto the building’s management company, along with a list of recommendations that will make the site safe again. Sometimes we will be asked to help with this, but sometimes we aren’t, and we won’t visit the site again for another year when their next safety check is due. When we do go back, we find the problem is still there, sometimes worse than it was a year ago. This leaves us in a very difficult position.
Between A Rock And A Hard Place
Let’s say we’re in the situation above. We’ve visited a block of flats for a safety check and discovered their boiler system is unsafe and needs repairs or replacing. We notified building management at the time and provided a quotation to fix it, but it wasn’t accepted. And now we’re back on site and see the issue was never address, and some extra issues have cropped up because of it. What do we do? The way we see it, we have a few options:
- We should shut the gas supply for the boilers off so that the problem won’t be a safety hazard. But if we do this, the tenants will not have any heating or hot water, which is also a health and safety issue.
- We report the issue to buildings management again, with another quotation, and a strong recommendation that it is dealt with right away. Sadly this particular building manager has already shown he isn’t reliable for repair work, and so we don’t know if the issue will actually be fixed.
This leaves us between a rock and a hard place in the form of property managers and the gas safety regulations. If we follow the regulations then we shut down the boiler and we will almost certainly lose our contract with the building straight away. Which is why some unscrupulous businesses might let unsafe sites slide – to keep themselves in work. Or we could submit the recommendation and quote again but not force the issue, in which case we are knowingly leaving the tenants in danger.
To be clear – in this situation we would always shut the gas off. While we do value our customers and their support for our business, safety is our number one priority.
It’s Time For Change
So, what’s the best answer? Well, we think it’s neither. At the moment, a property manager is not under any obligation to accept recommendations or quotes from contractors when it comes to work orders. Even when those recommendations are about safety. Yes, there are laws in place for landlords, but the follow through is not reliable. But when safety is in question, we believe there should be tougher rules in place.
What does that look like exactly? We’re not sure. In an ideal world there would be stricter rules around having remedial safety works carried out, including a requirement for property managers to accept quotations from contractors when they relate to improving safety. Of course property managers shouldn’t be forced to accept quotations from a business they don’t want to work with – but if there were a reporting and follow up process for safety issues, then we wouldn’t find ourselves in this situation and everyone would be safer for it.
At Bonus Eventus Maintenance Ltd safety is always our number 1 concern. Safety checks are an integral part of our business, and we will always include a basic safety check in our maintenance visits. We will also alert you to any issue that are just starting out, or that could be in the future based on what we see, so that you can take appropriate action while it will be a simpler fix and easier on your wallet. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with the team today to book a chat with one of our experts.