We’re living in extraordinary times. The Covid-19 crisis has had a dramatic effect on the way we live and work on a day to day basis, and the after effects will likely be felt for months, if not years to come. Business owners are coming to terms with a lot of new challenges, and amongst those challenges is the ongoing maintenance of buildings and properties. As with almost everything else, this area is suddenly being judged according to a whole new set of criteria. Here are some of the key considerations it’s now best to bear in mind.
IS THE WORK ESSENTIAL?
This is the first question that now needs to be asked of any impending job. New and pivotal elements of risk are now involved, and the urgency of the work must always be weighed up against the nature of this risk. Jobs that address an immediate safety issue are obviously one of the prime examples of essential work, such as electrical repairs that may otherwise present the risk of an electrical fire. Faults concerning gas, electricity, fire or other safety hazards should generally not be ignored. However, blocked sinks and leaky pipes, inefficient air conditioning, broken pieces of guttering or loose fence panels are highly unlikely to be reasonably considered essential.
Other issues may not present immediate safety hazards, but may give rise to longer term health risks – such as water quality and hygiene. For the health risks they pose, these may well qualify as essential works too.
The Building Engineering Services Association has advised that there are a number of other reasons why works may be considered important:
- Security purposes
- Maintain statutory compliance
- Protect the fabric and critical systems
- Satisfy insurance requirements
Full shutdowns should ideally be avoided if possible, as it will likely be more difficult to get things up and running again after the peak of the crisis. However, in individual cases, it will usually be up to the discretion of the building manager or property owner as to whether the work is considered essential, but it’s always important that any decisions are based on official guidance and government advice.