Paul Adams

Safety in construction: picking the perfect partner

  • 23 Sep 2015

Paul Adams, deputy marketing manager at Hochiki Europe, discusses the importance of researching project partners before work begins.

A new study from Hochiki Europe, a leading manufacturer of innovative life safety solutions, has found nearly half (49 per cent) of European fire safety equipment installers are not familiar with the latest fire and emergency lighting legislation.

This may have come as a shock to the industry, as the majority of contractors working with installers assume the people they’re working with are fully trained and up to date with regulations. However, results from our research shows that nearly two-fifths (39%) of respondents admitted they had not received any fire or emergency lighting training in the last two years.

This reported lack of training could mean many installers have significant knowledge gaps. For example, the British Standards Institution (BSI) began enforcing regulation EN54-23 for the installation and performance of Visual Alarm Devices (VADs) in December 2013. Installers failing to undertake training in the last two years may not be up to date with this guidance and subsequently leave building owners, managers and users at risk.

In 2014 alone, there were more than 2,600 documented fires in non-domestic UK buildings where an installed automatic smoke alarm failed to operate. A building is only ever as safe as the fire safety system it employs, and if that system has been installed or maintained improperly then there is a higher risk of component failure during an emergency. This, in turn, can bring about serious injury or worse.

Selecting a safety installer

Choosing the right life safety installer is imperative. At the start of a project, contractors invest time in researching the best products to use, or the best software with which to create their vision.

This same principle should apply when hiring a life safety system installer or businesses could be overlooking a lack of training or knowledge which may hinder an installer when fitting unfamiliar products to meet new standards, costing more in installation time and ultimately in subsequent maintenance and repairs.

Researching project partners can not only help contractors to meet regulations, it can also reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by ensuring life safety products are correctly and efficiently installed.

If an installer is confident in their knowledge and experience of safety legislation, contractors can rest assured that the equipment will be fitted to a high standard. This will support the products to run at optimum efficiency, reducing maintenance issues and reducing the overall spend on the equipment.

Our findings demonstrate that it is crucial for installers to have a deep understanding of the legislation they must meet, but also that responsibility lies with contractors to ensure they’re working with fully trained, expert installers.

If proper research is conducted into installers and their working knowledge of legislation, construction professionals can ensure that the building meets all the relevant regulations and remains safe for employees and building users in the long-term.

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