Safety and security

Safety and security are an extremely important responsibilities that the board and the management company are responsible for. Yet few directors understand what their responsibilities are.

Safety of the residents and their guests
A lot of this comes down to enforcing the rules and regulations so that people are not speeding in the underground garage, using BBQs on the balconies and having unsafe electrical work done in their units.

In the winter, the walkways must be clear of ice and snow and there should be no trip hazards at any time of the year. The snow removal contractor needs to shovel out the exit staircases from the underground parking garage.

Smokers who throw their lit butts off their balconies are a menace as the cigarettes fall onto the balconies below and burn season furniture and can start fires. That is one reason why propane barbecues are banned.

Finally, all safety complaints that management receives from the residents, employees or contractors must be recorded and taken seriously.

Worse case
An aspiring writer, 31-year-old Alexander Tirpack, was paralyzed after he fell from the top of a Brooklyn condo building during a party. The writer shattered his spine after he stepped into a two-and-a-half foot gap between the condo and an adjacent building in the dark.

Tirpack says that the accident could have been prevented if the condo building had city-required wire fencing around the rooftop area. The writer was awarded $43 million by a six-person jury.

Safety of the employees

The WSIB "In Case if Injury at Work" poster must be positioned in a prominent position where all the condo corporation's employees will see it.

All employees must wear all required personal protection equipment that is needed while doing their work. They must also have had all required training to be able to do their jobs safely.
A current MSDS sheet is required for every chemical that your superintendents and cleaners use while working at the condo.

They must know where the data sheets are kept and need to be shown how to reference them.

The directors need to be satisfied that these safety materials are on site and that the corporation's employees have the required safety training. The regulation came into force on 01 July 2014.

Safety of the contractors
All contractors must sign a release stating that all their employees have had all provincially required safety training, will follow all required safety rules and will wear all required personal protection equipment while working on the corporation's property.

Security issues

Security needs vary from condo to condo depending on the neighbourhood, the residents, the type of condo and on the building's history.

A small residential tower or townhouse complex that is on a quiet residential street will need far less security than a large mixed-use condo that sits beside a busy subway station.

A board that is under pressure to keep the fees low may cut the number of security guards, cut the number of hours they are on duty or even terminate the security company's contract.

Whether that is wise or not depends on the situation. When the evening and night security guard coverage was removed from one condo, the residents found that a homeless man was entering their building and was sleeping in their mail room.

The directors, the manager should have written plans to deal with the most common type of emergencies and they need to train the corporation's employees on what their duties are when an emergency occurs.

The directors should ensure that everyone knows where the First Aid Kit and the AED (if you have one) is and that the First Aid box is checked regularly to ensure it is not empty.

There needs to be a Fire Safety Plan stored in a locked steel box by the front entrance.

The directors, in case the superintendent is not on the property, need to know where the key to this box is in case the firefighters need to refer to the building's safety plan.

It would be a good idea for the directors to read this plan or at least make sure there is a current one in there.

Building evacuation
It is very rare that an evacuation is required but that is exactly why a condo corporation needs a plan and the directors and management should review it at least yearly.

Everyone, including all the residents, should know where their rally point is.

When the fire alarm is activated, all elevators drop to the ground floor. If the building needs to be evacuated, the firefighters will need a list of all residents that will need to use the Firefighter's Elevator (if it is working) or will need help coming down the staircases. The more information you can give them, the better it is.

All residential high rises need to canvass the residents yearly to ensure that this list is up-to-date.

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