Research Paper: Building Code Violations

Building Code Violations

Columbia Southern University

Building Code Violations

Mission Statement

The Fire Prevention Department is committed to provide the highest level of life safety, property and environment protection for employees, community we are proud to serve, and our clients through inspections, education, and enforcement.

I am honored to be part of this department and I strongly believe in our mission statement. As Fire Prevention Officer, I have the important responsibility to protect lives, properties, and environment from the consequences of fires, medical emergencies, and hazards in the workplace. I am also committed to provide the highest practical level of safety to our employees, clients, and citizens of our community. A safe working environment is positive for the employees’ moral and it will increase productivity reducing turn over; it is valuable to our customers that, perceiving our company as a corporation devoted to safety, will recommend our services to others individuals allowing a growth in our business; and it is beneficial to the citizens of our community which will not perceive our business as a threat (Diamantes, 2016). My promise to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace is pursued through several core values that distinguish our company from others within the industry. Professionalism in the application of rules and regulation, personal appearance, and attitude are the first principles that mark my approach. Other ethics that identify my mission are: integrity during the inspections; transparency communicating my findings at different levels of management; responsibility in accident prevention and accountability in case of negative events; and teamwork, which is the key to succeed in safety. The mission statement is achieved through inspections, education, and enforcement. Inspections are focused in identifying eventual hazards present in the workplace so corrective actions can be taken to eliminate them or to mitigate their effects if their removal is not possible. Education is the key to prevent the creation of new hazards and to be proactive in the identification and elimination of potential safety threats. Lastly, enforcement is the tool we use to avoid incompliance with safety regulations that will lead in creation of risks and hazards with unpredictable consequences.

This paper has the objective to explain the results of one of the elements of our mission statement, inspections, and to request help to the board in fixing the issues I found demonstrating our commitment to safety, in accordance with our mission statement.

Findings

As Fire Prevention Officer of our company I have the obligation to inspect our workplace periodically, identifying hazards and proposing solutions to prevent accidents. My last audit of all organizational buildings revealed five important issues that need immediate attention to be corrected. The first and probably the most serious problem we are facing is the incoming supply service which is badly worn with exposed energized wires and it needs to be replaced. This is an electrical violation of the national Electrical Code NFPA 70 Article 364.30 which states that all wires shall be insulated with fire-retardant barriers from all primary circuit elements (National Fire Protection Association, 2017). Our employees have many apparatus connected with the incoming power supply and, since the wires are exposed, this constitute a fire danger and a constant threat to all workers. Since we are the users of the power supply, the responsibility to maintain it in safe working conditions relies on us and not on the power supplier. It is necessary to substitute the element in order to bring the company in compliance with the code and to reestablish the safety standard that represent our philosophy. I already put it out of service and I proceeded with the lock out/tag out process, since I believe that it is an imminent danger. My request for the board is to start the emergency procedure to fund its replacement so we do not have to undergo the cumbersome budget authorization process.

I also identified two structural problems that I classified as deficiencies according to our internal standards and to the Building Construction and Safety Code NFPA 5000. Three of the nine supporting columns downstairs in the basement show signs of spalling and fatigue. Concrete spalling is the deterioration of the concrete due to water infiltration that cause the concrete surface to peel off (Jeffrey Luckai, Maria Anna Polak, and Scott Walbridge, 2014). Moisture in concrete cause the spalling. This is particularly dangerous because it is happening on supporting columns. The first step is to identify the origin of the water infiltration and correct it. Successively, we need to investigate how deep in the column the phenomenon caused the deterioration, and lastly we need to remove the top layer and pour a new layer in its place. The other structural issue is in the roof. My inspection revealed several cracks and oxidation in few steel trusses supporting the roof. The cracks can be due to excess of load, thus, I will need to contract a civil engineer that will evaluate the load on each of the trusses affected and he will also proceed to replace the oxidized structural element (Lars Bader, 2018). Lastly, the audit also discovered two violations in the ventilation system. The first is located in the maintenance shop where our vehicles are repaired and maintained. The exhaust system is malfunctioning and it is convoying the exhaust fumes in the upper level where the administrative offices are located. Several employees have already been treated for carbon monoxide intoxication. This is a clear violation of 29 CFR 1910.94(a) (1) (viii) which states that we need to provide a functioning system for removing contaminated air from space (United States Department of Labor, n-d). This problem could cause expensive fines in case of an OSHA inspection; therefore, I suggest to contract an environmental engineer to conduct an indoor air quality study in the shop and in the administrative offices. In addition, we need to revise and re-convoy the entire exhaust system to avoid future lawsuits from employees that can be very expensive. The last issue I need to bring into your attention is also a ventilation problem found in the central heating and air conditioning unit. It has broken seals, worn and exposed wires, and clogged filters. Since this problem is in violation of the OSHA standard 1910.94, it is necessary to contract an air conditioning installer which will repair the seals and the clogged filters ensuring a good indoor quality of air. He will also replace the worn wires eliminating the electrocution risk and the fire hazards associated with the issue.

Conclusion

The quarterly inspection has the main focus to ensure compliance with codes and regulations we have to observe and to provide a safe working environment to our employees. My last audit revealed five important issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible. One electrical violation regarding the incoming supply service, two structural issues regarding the columns in the basement and the roof trusses, and two ventilation problems that decrease the quality of the indoor air are the main findings that can cause several problems with OSHA and with the fire department inspectors. A portion of the company currently has no power and the maintenance shop has been placed out of service due to the ventilation issues. My request is to allocate special funding to fix the concerns I mentioned in my report in order to restore services as soon as possible and to return to the higher safety standards that distinguish our company.

References

David Diamantes (2016). Principles of fire prevention (updated 3rd Ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Jeffrey Luckai, Maria Anna Polak, and Scott Walbridge (2014). A methodology for evaluating the effects of spalling on the structural capacity of reinforced concrete bridge girders. Retrieved from CSU Online Library.

Lars Bader (2018). The Importance of Preventive Maintenance. Retrieved from CSU Online Library.

National Fire Protection Association (2018). Building Construction and Safety Code NFPA 5000. Retrieved from https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards/detail?code=5000

National Fire Protection Association (2017). National Electrical Code NFPA 70. Retrieved from https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards/detail?code=70

National Fire Protection Association (2017). National Electrical Code NFPA 70E. Retrieved from https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards/detail?code=70e

Terry Taylor (2010). Structural Inspections of Processing Plants. Retrieved from https://arlweb.msha.gov/Alerts/StructuralFailureAlert9142012.pdf

United States Department of Labor (n-d). Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Ventilation 1910.94. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9734