Building Operators: Have you fallen victim to these common misconceptions about routine inspections?

In my job, I get the opportunity to visit commercial, residential, industrial and retail buildings across Canada. I also get the chance to speak with frontline staff, engineers, security professionals and head office leadership. Through my visits, I continuously encounter 3 misconceptions about routine inspections. 

1. Work orders 
Work order systems are great for specific tenant requests – for example, a work order can be issued if a tenant asks to keep the lights on longer than usual on a given night. 

Also great for tenant complaints, work orders can be used to notify custodial staff of minor issues such as an empty soap dispenser in the washroom – though the last thing you should want a tenant doing is putting in a work order to advise of something that needs attending to. Tenants are busy and this creates a sub-standard experience for them. This is why proactive inspections are so beneficial – but that’s for another blog post. 

Work orders are not ideal however, for producing compliant inspection records or any other type of logs, as they generally do not record that each individual piece of equipment (i.e. fire equipment) or area was inspected. Documentation needs to show a log of inspections, including each piece of equipment that was inspected, a list of locations, who inspected it and when. Since it would be overly time-consuming to create a work order for each individual monthly fire extinguisher inspection, this isn’t a standard practice; technology designed specifically for routine inspections would be much more suitable and efficient. 

2. Building automation systems (BAS) 
Building automation systems are computer databases that monitor building equipment such as mechanical, plumbing and fire protection. BAS’ are great for monitoring equipment speeds, pressures and temperatures. There are however, things that BAS’ cannot tell you. This information (i.e. broken belts, pest issues, condensation etc.), can only come from routine inspections. Assets monitored by BAS’ are costly, so it’s best practice to perform routine inspections and preventative maintenance in order to ensure longevity of equipment and perform due diligence. 

3. Sensors/Beacons 
Sensors such as beacons can detect when items are low (like toilet paper supplies in a washroom) or can be used to detect motion, i.e. from a staff member entering a room. 

The sensors can tell you that someone visited the room but they do not have a reporting mechanism in the event the room requires attention. The employee would still have to rely on another reporting procedure/system. Sensors are costly and would need to work in conjunction with another system, which makes them inefficient for this purpose. 

With this in mind, it’s still my belief that proactive, routine inspection of both mandated and non-mandated equipment is the best practice not only to reduce risk, but to ensure compliance and efficiency, longevity of asset life and tenant satisfaction.