To run an architectural practice there is a need for practice managements that can increase the efficiently in the organization. Safety and design are one of the many practice managements that is important to consider, as it helps to keep the working environment safety and healthy for workers. It is important to consider safety and design from det very beginning during design stage throughout building lifecycle to eliminate injuries (Acumen practice notes, 2015). One of the biggest safety problems in building design is stairs. These has caused falls (injuries) or even death for many people; Ms Covey was one of them that ended up with neck and arm injuries, due to the uneven heights of risers on the stairs at regional Queensland hospital (Charter tower). These stairs are not in compliance with the building code, so the hospital ended up paying her 1.6 million dollars (Silva, 2017). A workplace has to be safety to ensure that workers/users are not in danger, but in this incident the employer/ facility manager has been irresponsible in their duty controlling/ fixing up the stair (We are union ohs reps, 2016); as the stairs has caused small injuries for workers before Ms covey accident.
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Architects should be responsible during designing a building, but also during the construction to make sure that the building is safety for the workers/users. It is builder’s duty to ensure that the stair is in corresponded to the building code (We are union ohs reps, 2016), but Architects should look after the builder and guide them as needed as there might be issues for the builder to understand the drawing and the building codes.
During the use it is important to maintain the building, to ensure that the building occupants are prevented against injuries. A person, usually a hired facility manager (maintenance worker) will make sure that every part of the building is checked and whether its need maintenance or not to remain clean, healthy and safe place to be on/work on (CLR, 2018).
A building design has four lifecycles; During (1) construction, (2) use, (3) maintenance and (4) demolition (Acumen practice notes, 2015). For the purpose of this report, will this report focus on (3) maintenance aspect of the building lifecycle.
Architects has the power to reduce the impact of hazards for the workers who maintain the building by considering safety and design during the design process. Considering safety in the early stage helps maintenance workers reducing or minimize injuries or worst dead during maintenance on the building (Safeworkdesign, 2019). Maintenance workers plays an important role in keeping the building safety for users to be on, and it is important to keep workers healthy to prevent users from harm. Moreover, to reduce the hazard on maintenance for workers/ user should architect take in consideration of plan of fire protection, protect occupant safety and health, natural hazards mitigation and provide security for building assets and occupants and consider safety (WBDG, 2017) while designing. Also, there is different way of approaching the maintenance worker and the users while designing safety for them.
There are rules and regulations that need to be followed by architect in terms of fire protection during the design process, to meet with the minimum requirement. Minimum requirements only cover the protection against loss of life and limit the fire impact on the community and does not consider unique circumstances of fire. Therefor architect should understand that fire on building occurs in four different ways; through man- made, natural, incidental and wildfire and use that knowledge to go beyond the regulation and cover strategies to achieve appealing level of safety in terms of egress and smoke recovery and evacuation (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017).
A man- made fire in Surat, western India has led many thousand injuries and twenty death, due to lack of fire protection consideration during design process. In this building there were no safety equipment installed and no escape routes. The one stair that was on the building, was burnt down before people was able to run out (ABC News, 2018). As WBDG (national institute of building science) covers of the minimal regulation of fire safety, do not this building cover the minimum regulation of safety during fire but was approved by the Indian government.
These days buildings are considered as a safe and healthy place to work on, but there are other issues related healthy environment, such as exposure to hazardous materials, occupational injuries and illnesses and air quality problem (indoor) that has to be taken in consideration. Architects, engineers and facility manager has to keep improving the design and keep up with the maintenance to prevent against those issues that can harm the working environment. In this regard, architects need to work on process analysis; process documentation, measurement, analysis and recognize hazard to find out new solutions that can provide a better place for workers (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017).
Singapore building and construction authority (BCA) has proven that green building makes the indoor air quality better in terms of improving health issues for workers. Workers feel happier, and the result affect positively on the work performance (Eco-Business, 2017).
Safety in terms of natural phenomena incident on building is hard to predict, as it is hard to know when that will occur. Some of the nature disaster that can harm the building and the occupants are floods, windstorms and earthquakes. Weather is changing due to global warming, and it is hard to predict when and what sort of disaster will occur, but a good mitigation measure on building will help to prevent against these hazards. Mitigation measure means prevent, control or reduce environmental disaster on the building (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017).
“We need to let buildings move, and we can actually understand where they might fail, and then go in and design buildings with that in mind (Weaver, 2014)”. To solve the issues related natural disaster, can architects design building with flexibility. So that the structure would be able to move and bend to reduce the impact of earthquakes. To withstand hurricane hazards should angles roof (Hipped roof shape) be considered in the design process, as this withstand the wind more than a flat or gamble roof. Other natural disaster is hard to control, but it can be reduced by designing building close to the water (Flood) and bush (Bushfire) (Weaver, 2014).
Safety is in risk for workers/users of the building, when attacks from people against building happens. These attacks can vary from criminals, lone active shooter, disgruntles employees, terrorists and vandals. To implement effective physical security, can architect consider to design/specify on the ductile detailing, nonlinear material, space planning and structural dynamics together with security consultants and structural engineer. This is to give the workers/users of the building security protection (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017).
Srilanka was recently being attacked by terrorist, due to ignorance of the intelligence burao. During this attack hotels and churches were the main target, and many people died during the bombing on the building. There is no way to make a building bomb proof but making the elements of the building strong; in this case ceiling, would have reduced people`s dead (CBS News, 2019).
Figure 2: Bomb blast on St. Sebastian’s Church, North Colombo, Srilanka (CBS News, 2019).
Architects has to consider both the worker (maintenance worker) and the user to design safety protection for them. A comparison study of what the needs for the worker and the user would be analysed, to find out how differently architect should approach them.
Plan of fire protection
There is a risk maintaining electrical wiring, and fire has occurred during this maintenance. Architect should consider safety for worker by specify fire safety equipment’s (Chemical extinguisher, blanket etc.) in this electrical room to reduce the fire impact (Fire rescue, 2017).
There are regulations that covers fire safety aspect. Architects should consider more than the regulation and make it better in terms of egress, smoke recovery and evacuation for the users.
Protect occupant safety and health
Maintenance worker are high risk on accidents/ dead due to lack of architects understanding on them. Some of the aspects that have led to injuries are by not having air condition on ground level (less fall risk), install sliding rail for easy maintaining lighting on high ceiling, edge protection and platform for external glass cleaning safety etc (Daly, 2018).
Architects should think about the users of the building and consider a better working environment. This can be done using green elements on the building, so the user’s environment become healthier to work on.
Natural hazards mitigation
Natural hazards are hard to predict. But consider disaster before it happens and designing building accordingly to make sure occupants health are safety is important. Architect can make decisions in beforehand if the land is suitable or not from hazards caused by nature.
Provide security for building assets and occupants
No one knows when this will happen. But architect can reduce the impact by considering this impact into the design stage.
Architects have a big impact on safety for maintenance workers and users of the building. It is important that architect consider safety and design early in the design stage, to avoid hazards and risk for occupants. This can be done by architect by understanding and design better solutions against fire protection, safety and health of occupants, mitigation plan to reduce the impact from natural hazards and give security for building assets and occupants.
Recommendation for making building safety for users and maintenance workers that architect should consider in terms of fire protection is to (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017):
- Make a design team: Be in contact with fire protection engineer during the design phase to get most out of the safety in terms of building construction requirements, life safety, fire detection and notification system, Emergency (lighting, power and exit signage) and other special fire protection requirements.
- Make easy access to fire department: design easy access to fire equipment and that this department is located in a convenient area for fire fighters to access when fire.
In terms of protecting occupant’s safety and health can architect (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017):
- Give designs that helps to reduce or eliminate hazards in workplace to prevent accidents, illness and occupational injuries
- Reduce the accidents happened from height falls
- Prevent falls, slips and trips
- Make sure electrical area is safely designed
- Give good indoor air quality and sufficient ventilation through design
- Remove hazardous material exposure
For controlling natural disaster affecting building can architect (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017):
- Design building that are disaster – resistant in the early stage of the design, in terms building structure and material.
Lastly, architect can provide a better design in terms of security for building assets and occupants by (WBDG Secure/ safe committee, 2017):
- Secure the building in the design stage by designing building that can tackle human made attacks by providing structure, material, planning and detail.
Architects need to be clear about how the design will affect the users/ workers and they have to make sure they can make most out of the safety in building for them. Further, architects have the responsibility to determine other safety issues that can happened around the building, without those fours that are mentioned above. They have to not only consider the minimum safety requirements, but they have to go beyond it to make the building a better place to be on for everyone.
- ABC news. (2019). Fire in tutoring centre kills 20 teenage students in India. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-25/india-fire-kills-19-students/11149704
- Acumen practice notes. (2015). Occupational health and safety – safe design. Retrieved from https://acumen.architecture.com.au/project/core-architectural-services/regulatory-requirements/occupational-health-and-safety—safe-design/
- CBS News. (2019). Death toll from Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka nears 300. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/sri-lanka-bombings-death-toll-easter-attack-churches-hotels-live-updates-22-04-2019/
- CLR. (2018). Why is Proper Building Maintenance Important?. Retrieved from https://clrservices.com/blog/why-is-proper-building-maintenance-important/
- Cooper, H. (2013). Factory collapse a ‘wake-up call’ for fashion industry. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-30/bangladesh-building-collapse-fashion-industry/4661162
- Daly, J. (2018). Case Study: Affinity Water, United Kingdom. Retrieved from https://www.safedesignaustralia.com.au/safe-maintenance-affinity-water/
- Eco-Business. (2017). People are less likely to fall sick in green buildings, study finds. Retrieved from https://www.eco-business.com/news/people-are-less-likely-to-fall-sick-in-green-buildings-study-finds/
- Fire rescue. (2017). How to put out an electrical fire in five steps. Retrieved from https://www.firerescue1.com/child-safety-education/articles/371959018-How-to-put-out-an-electrical-fire-in-five-steps/
- Hupje, E. (2018). 9 Types of maintenance: how to choose the right maintenance strategy. Retrieved from https://www.roadtoreliability.com/types-of-maintenance
- Safeworkdesign. (2019). Safe design. Retrieved from https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/safe-design
- Silva. K. (2017). Woman falls up Charters Towers hospital stairs, gets $1.6m payout. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-01/hospital-fall-compensation-pay-out-charters-towers/8312092
- WBDG. (2017). Secure/ safe. Retrieved from https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/secure-safe
- WBDG Occupant Safety and Health. Retrieved from https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/secure-safe/occupant-safety-health
- WBDG Secure/ safe committee. (2017). Fire protection. Retrieved from https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/secure-safe/fire-protection
- WBDG Secure/ safe committee. (2017). Natural hazards mitigation. Retrieved from https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/secure-safe/natural-hazards-mitigation
- WBDG Secure/ safe committee. (2017). Security for Building Occupants and Assets. Retrieved from https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/secure-safe/security-building-occupants-assets
- We are union ohs reps. (2016). Steps and Stairs. Retrieved from https://www.ohsrep.org.au/steps_and_stairs
- Weaver, C. (2014). Natural Disasters Require Special Building Design. Retrieved from https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/natural-disaster-building-design-earthquake-hurricane/1943081.html
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