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Building-Liability Problems Can Be Minimized With Safety Checklist

Making a list and checking it twice doesn’t apply only to the jolly, fat guy in the big red suit.

Savvy building owners (and renters) – either commercial or residential – know how to protect their investment by creating, and implementing, a safety checklist.
Keeping a commercial or apartment building in safe condition requires an eye for detail, according to Troy Norberg, general manager of Tru-Serve, a Minneapolis-St. Paul-area property and building-maintenance company.
“Taking the appropriate precautions to ensure a building is safe will prevent future liabilities,” he explains. “All it takes is one problem or accident on your property to hurt your business.”
Norberg’s eight-point checklist can help property owners create a protected, secure environment for their tenants.
Detectors: Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors should be checked every six months, and owners should check with the building department in the city where their property is located to ensure they are complying with all city ordinances.
Extinguishers: A monthly check of fire extinguishers should include making sure the pin is in place, the pressure gauge is in the “OK” position, the hose is properly attached, that there are no dents or leaks, that it is mounted on the wall at the appropriate height, and the extinguisher has not passed the expiration date.

Emergency lights: “During the stormy season, emergency lights can be triggered on when the power goes out,” Norbers says. “This draws power from the backup batteries and can drain them over time. It’s a good idea to check them regularly and to note each testing date. Just as important, check the lit exit signs monthly.”

Exterior lights: Exterior lights, which are usually set with timers or use a photo cell to come on when darkness falls, be checked and adjusted when needed.

Evacutation routes: Tenants should be reminded to keep hallways clear for easy evacuation.

Windows and doors: Check windows and doors for safety and security. “Ripped or loose screens can be hazardous and should be repaired. At times, tenants can prop open doors for easy access; for the safety of all tenants, these doors need to remain closed and locked,” Norberg says. Sliding glass doors can be secured with strong wooden dowels or metal bars in the track so the door can’t be slid open.

Decks: Don't use rugs or indoor-outdoor carpeting on decks; the material rots the wood over time. Any rotten wood or loose railings should be replaced. Grills may be prohibited by law on apartment decks.

Debris and tripping hazards;  Keep grounds free from debris. Norberg advises that cracks in sidewalks and driveways be repaired and that fallen tree branches be cleared.

For more information about Tru-Serve, visit the company’s Web site at

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