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Making our commercial buildings safer is a challenge to say the least. Not only is it a multifaceted responsibility that involves regular maintenance and thorough inspections, it also requires effective communication among all stakeholders.

In today’s technology-driven world, property inspection software has become a crucial tool for property managers aiming to maintain these high safety standards.

This blog will explore how property inspection software is enhancing the safety of commercial buildings by focusing on a few high-priority areas, such as fire risk assessments, lift inspections, proactive maintenance, and improved communication among building managers and property management teams.

The challenges of commercial property managers

Commercial property owners and managers across the UK face an arduous task to make sure their buildings are not only functional and attractive to tenants and occupants, but also compliant with strict safety regulations. The stakes are high because a single oversight can lead to severe consequences, as we’ve seen over the decades. This goes beyond financial losses and legal liabilities – most critically, oversights can endanger the lives of people visiting and living in these spaces.

The complex landscape of commercial property management

What is commercial property management? On the face of it, it may sound simple, but there is so much to consider. Because commercial properties encompass a range of building types, from office buildings and shopping centres to industrial warehouses and multi-use complexes, each comes with its own set of challenges.

For instance, high-rise office buildings require regular maintenance of elevators and fire safety systems, espeically in the wake of new fire safety mandates, while industrial properties may need rigorous inspections to ensure the safe handling of hazardous materials.

Managing buildings to ensure they are safe, compliant, and well-maintained is not just a necessity, but a responsibility we all share

Regardless of the type, all commercial properties must adhere to building and safety regulations, which can be complex and subject to frequent updates.

Balancing operational efficiency with safety

One of the significant challenges for property managers is balancing operational efficiency with safety. On one hand, they must ensure that the property is operating smoothly and cost-effectively.

On the other hand, managers must invest in safety measures and maintenance. These things don’t necessarily generate immediate returns, but they’re absolutely crucial for long-term sustainability and risk management.

This balancing act requires meticulous planning, continuous monitoring, and the ability to respond swiftly to emerging issues.

Getting proactive maintenance and risk mitigation right

Proactive maintenance is another critical aspect of property management that can prevent minor issues from escalating into major, costly problems.

However, it requires a well-coordinated approach and access to reliable information about the property’s condition. Regular inspections and timely repairs are essential to maintaining the integrity of building systems and ensuring the safety of occupants.

To help with some of the heavy lifting, property managers need tools that enable them to schedule, track, and document maintenance activities efficiently.

Effective communication and stakeholder collaboration made easy

Effective communication is another cornerstone of successful property management. Teams make buildings work, not indivudals. Property managers need to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders, whether that’s tenants, maintenance staff, contractors, occupants, and local authorities.

Clear and timely communication ensures that everyone, no matter who they are, is aware of their responsibilities and any issues that need to be addressed.

In large commercial properties, this can be particularly challenging without a centralised system to manage information and facilitate collaboration, and even harder when that department is outsourced.

What role does technology play in modern property management?

So we’ve seen that commercial property is complex – stakeholders, regulations, documentation…the list is seemingly endless.

But in recent years, technology has emerged to help redefine how properties are managed and maintained. Property inspection software in particular has proven valuable when it comes to addressing the challenges we’ve looked at.

The power of automating routine tasks by itself is not to be underestimated, as it gives real-time access to information. This, in addition to time-saving, consistent features like shareable digital inspection checklists are helping property managers make sure that their buildings meet the highest safety standards while operating efficiently at all times.

Let’s take a look at a few of the key safety concerns in commercial property and how technology can help manage them.

1. Fire Safety Risk Assessments

Fire safety is paramount in any commercial building, and the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire have underscored the importance of rigorous fire safety protocols. Regular fire safety risk assessments are crucial for identifying potential hazards and ensuring compliance with fire safety regulations.

In the year ending September 2023, fire and rescue services in England attended 143,625 fires. Although this is a 23% decrease from the previous year, largely due to fewer secondary fires (outdoor fires not involving people or property)​, it’s still alarming.

This is why identifying hazards and risks early and reporting on them with the wider team is so crucial to stopping it at the source.

Identifying hazards and risks

Property inspection software streamlines the process of conducting fire safety risk assessments through a structured approach to identifying and documenting potential fire hazards. Now these have to be kept digitally under new regulations, paper-based checks just don’t work anymore.

Not only are they faster, but responsible persons can use property inspection software to record observations, take photographs, and generate detailed reports on the spot. This real-time data collection can help to make sure that all potential risks are thoroughly documented and easily accessible for review at any time, anywhere.

Ensuring Compliance

As we’ve already touched on, compliance with fire safety regulations, such as the Fire Safety Order (FSO) and the Building Safety Act, is essential for the safety of occupants.

Property inspection software helps ensure compliance by offering checklists based on current regulations. This ensures that all necessary precautions are taken, from the inspection of fire doors to the maintenance of fire alarm systems. Reminders for scheduled inspections and maintenance tasks further ensure that nothing is overlooked, ever.

Streamlining Reporting

One of the significant advantages of property inspection software lies in its ability to generate comprehensive reports at the push of a button.

After all, knowledge is power, so these reports can be shared with building owners, managers, and relevant authorities, ensuring that everyone is informed about the current fire safety status of the building.

This level of transparency is critical in ensuring that any identified issues are promptly addressed, reducing the risk of fire-related incidents.

2. Lift Inspections

Lifts are an integral part of commercial buildings, especially in high-rise structures, so making sure they’re operating safely is not only crucial, but law. Regular lift inspections help prevent accidents and ensure that lifts are functioning correctly.

Scheduled inspections and maintenance

Property inspection software facilitates timely lift inspections, helping managers keep track of past inspections, maintenance schedules, and any repairs, ensuring that lifts are always in the best possible condition.

To that end, reminders and notifications can help to ensure that inspections are never missed, reducing the risk of lift malfunctions and decreased resident safety.

Detailed documentation

During inspections, managers can document the condition of lift components, note any wear and tear, and record any repairs carried out. This detailed documentation provides a clear history of the lift’s maintenance and performance, which is essential for identifying recurring issues and planning future maintenance.

Enhancing safety protocols

As per the HSE, regular lift inspections and maintenance are mandated under various UK safety regulations to ensure operational safety and compliance. This includes checking emergency systems, intercomms, and safety signage to prevent accidents or malfunctions. Property inspection software helps building managers with many of the safety protocols related to lift operations.

3. Proactive maintenance

A culture of proactive maintenance is key to preventing issues before they become significant problems. Here are a few ways in which technology is offering a helping hand.

Predictive maintenance

One of the most important things in commercial property management is predictive maintenance. When you have the information from regular inspections and maintenance activities to hand, you’ll have a better chance of knowing when certain building assets are likely to fail.

This can allow property managers and facilities managers to address anything that could develop into a problem, which often comes with costly repairs when overlooked.

Regular inspections and checklists

Property inspection software is great for inspection checklists, which are useful when regular inspections of various building systems are needed. Although they sound simple, these digital checklists ensure that all critical components are regularly inspected and maintained, ensuring that buildings remain safe and functional.

Real-time issue reporting

The only thing better than information is real-time information. Property inspection software can be really useful for real-time reporting and inspections of maintenance issues. When a property manager identifies a problem, they can immediately log it and share it with the maintenance team to take action, whether they’re internal or external contractors.

This immediate communication helps address issues quickly, preventing them from escalating into more significant problems down the line.

Improved communication among stakeholders

Effective communication among building managers, maintenance teams, and other stakeholders is one of the most critical parts of a “well-oiled” commercial property machine. Property inspection software enhances that communication by giving stakeholders a centralised platform for information sharing and maintaining a golden thread of information.

Centralised data storage

Property inspection software stores all inspection reports, maintenance records, and safety checklists in a centralised place. This gives stakeholders a way to access to the most up-to-date information about a building’s condition and any ongoing activities. This can eliminate or mitigate the risk of miscommunication, making sure everyone is on the same page.

Collaboration tools

The software often includes collaboration tools that allow team members to communicate and share information directly within the platform. For example, if a property manager or facilities manager identifies a fire safety issue, they can assign a task to the maintenance team, who can then update the status of the repair.

Transparency and accountability

Having a clear record of all inspections, maintenance activities, and repairs promotes transparency and accountability. Property inspection software gives building managers a way to track the progress of maintenance, ensuring that things are completed on time and to the required standard. This transparency helps build trust among stakeholders and ensures that all safety measures are followed to the letter.

Looking ahead

The safety of commercial buildings is a critical concern that requires a well-rounded, proactive approach. Property inspection software can be the difference here – it’s an effective route to streamlining fire safety risk assessments, lift inspections, and maintenance activities, while also enhancing communication among stakeholders.

As Warrick Swift, Marketing Director at Property Inspect states: “Implementing these processes and leveraging technology is not just about ticking boxes for compliance. It’s about creating safer environments, preventing potential hazards, and ensuring that any issues are promptly addressed.”

Through this approach, people in charge of buildings can make sure that their properties are not only compliant, but are also maintained to the highest standards.

The proliferation of property inspection software represents a significant step towards creating safer commercial buildings, offering an organised, efficient, and transparent way to make sure that alll safety measures are followed and that potential risks are caught early.

In a world where there is absolutely no compromise for building safety, property inspection software can be an indispensable tool for property managers committed to the utmost safety of their properties and the people that live and work in them.

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