Vacant or sparsely occupied properties present unique challenges because they lack the day-to-day activity that naturally mitigates common hazards. For example, a largely unoccupied building may be prone to unauthorised access or malicious damage. Isolating or not continuing to maintain sprinkler systems leaves the building exposed to a potentially severe fire while a reduced security presence may result in an increased risk of intrusion or arson.
There is a danger that routine risk management programs and maintenance protocols are deferred. This may result in the potential for incidents having an increased frequency or severity of loss.
Hazards in unattended buildings may present a risk to visitors, staff, contractors or emergency responders. Poorly lit areas, unprotected floor openings, abandoned chemicals or flammable materials can make it dangerous for those in the building or fighting a fire.
Managing The Risk
The following should be considered:
Exterior and interior security
Decommissioning and recommissioning protocols
Building condition monitoring
Protective system supervision and maintenance
Review of risk management protocols
Implement enhanced exterior security including physical measures and guarding protocols
Remove all excess materials and combustibles such as rubbish bins and idle pallets from around the building
Trim and maintain vegetation to prevent overgrowth
Check the roof for vegetation growth, clogged drains or signs of vandalism
Maintain exterior lighting to deter crime or vandalism
Provide intrusion, fire and liquid leakage detection for unattended areas. Detection systems should signal to a constantly attended location or monitoring service
Ensure that safety related equipment (including emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, etc.) is maintained in an operable condition
Minimise the quantities of combustible materials on-site. Hazardous materials should be removed from the premises
Valuable items should be removed or secured in dedicated and controlled areas
Interior doors should be closed and secured where applicable
Risk Management Protocols
Decommissioning of building services may be considered but should not expose the facility to heating, fire and or security protection outages
Recommissioning plans should be established
Maintenance protocols for protective systems (including sprinklers, fire alarms, fire doors, intrusion alarms, CCTV systems, etc.) should continue to be in accordance with recognised standards and manufacturers recommendations. Deviations from normal protocols should be agreed in advance with Chubb Risk Engineering Services
Machinery and equipment should be decommissioned in a controlled manner to minimise the risk of damage and facilitate future recommissioning. Plans for appropriate maintenance regimes (including statutory and preventative requirements) should be established. It may be necessary to catch up on deferred maintenance prior to recommissioning
Plans should be established for reduced staffing at monitoring services, security guarding, emergency response and support for previously established response procedures
Contingency plans for utility and infrastructure failure or availability limitations should be reviewed
Building inspection protocols should be maintained, with at least weekly inspections of unattended areas recommended
Critical hygiene and pest control protocols should continue to be maintained
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