Global power management company, Eaton, says preventive safety management in building construction can help reduce the menace of building collapse and also save lives.
The firm said in a statement that the recent Ita-Faaji building collapse that resulted in the loss of lives, including those of school children, had once again emphasised the need for building safety to be a key priority for all stakeholders in the construction process, from architectural planning to final project completion.
The Product Manager for Light and Safety Division, Eaton, Mr Dean Gopal, said building safety systems were often bypassed or substandard equipment chosen based on costs.
Gopal said, “We also see that fire, voice and evacuation systems are left out or not serviced correctly, which contribute to the large number of fatalities we hear about in the media. If these are done and specified in the planning phase of construction, they come at a lower cost compared to having changes made during and after the construction is complete.
“Over the past few years, we have seen several cases reported about buildings collapsing due to fire. It is extremely important that fire risk assessments be carried out safely, and evacuation procedures put in place and monitored by the relevant building authorities to ensure the safety of people and buildings.”
According to Eaton, statistics show that from 2015, the Federal Fire Service recorded over 900 fire incidents in which over 200 lives were lost as well as the loss of business continuity, which amounted to about N11bn in revenue.
It added that effective building safety management should include experts doing a risk assessment of a building, identifying possible risks, selecting the appropriate design and installations to address these risks, and ensuring regular testing and maintenance of these solutions.
“Recent trends reveal increased construction of larger commercial buildings that are less traditional and more like multi-functional hotels in order to offer a high level of service and comfort.
These multi-functional buildings, which include residential and commercial premises, restaurants and shops, are far more vulnerable to hazards such as fire that could lead to a mass evacuation. This underscores the need for having a robust evacuation strategy in place,” Gopal said.
He added that fire safety could also be advanced by having the appropriate quality materials and resources to be installed in a building from the early construction stages through to installation.
He added, “With recent innovation and technological advancements, today’s building owners have the choice of a plethora of new products that comply with the latest industry codes and standards, offering flexibility to choose the required level of safety.
“Building owners, engineers, and the regulatory authority have a critical role to play and must collaborate to work towards constructing sustainable communities. Importantly, Nigeria’s safety regulations must begin to reference regulations that are now seen as standard in other developed countries.
For instance, UK regulations enforce incorporation of evacuation procedures into business continuity and disaster response plans.
“Preventive safety management is the most sustainable and long-term solution to avoid tragedy, save on costs and ensure that our cities are aligned with globally-recognised standards.”