A visit from the local building inspector or fire marshall can make a small business owner break into a cold sweat. Any building code violations discovered can result in a citation, fines and costly repairs. In the worst-case scenario, your company can be held liable if building code violations contribute to the injury or loss of life of a customer or employee. Some of the most common building code violations involve:
1. Fire safety codes.
2. Accessibility codes.
3. Electrical codes.
4. Noise mitigation codes.
Fire safetyDepending on the type of facility you occupy, you may be required to have easily accessible fire extinguishers, a sprinkler system, smoke detectors and a fire alarm. Schedule regular inspections and preventive maintenance to ensure that sprinkler systems are fully operational.
Exit signsBuilding codes require that exits be clearly marked as a way to protect the public in case of a fire or other problem. Failing to do so will put you in violation.
Maximum occupancyExceeding the maximum occupancy allowed for the building is one of the most common fire safety code violations—and probably the easiest one to avoid. If you run any kind of business in which large numbers of customers visit your facility—a bar, nightclub or restaurant, for example—you can avoid violation by keeping track of the number of people who enter your facility.
AccessibilityBuilding codes require you to provide access to your facility to people using a wheelchair or who are otherwise disabled. These codes include providing access to parking spaces, elevators and restrooms
Faulty wiringElectrical wiring that hasn’t been installed properly or that’s out-of-date can lead to a citation and can be a fire hazard. In addition, any abandoned cables on a commercial property must be removed.
Noise regulationsNoise regulations are particularly important in the industrial sector where noise can affect the health and safety of employees. Excessive noise puts workers at risk for hearing damage, increased stress and other workplace injuries and accidents.
Finding building codesIf you want to check on building codes in your area, you can find them online.
- When you first purchase or lease a commercial building, hire a building inspector to perform an inspection. If any building code violations are discovered, ask the landlord or seller to fix before you occupy the space.
- If you receive a citation, don’t put off required repairs. This can lead to stiffer fines.
- When building new construction or making improvements to an existing building, hire only licensed contractors and architects.