All church building owners and occupiers have legal and duty-of-care obligations to provide safe premises for use by members, visitors, workers and volunteers. Part of this compliance involves the conducting of regular maintenance of essential safety measures with regard to such areas as fire safety systems, emergency lighting, and building exits. CCI recommends the RedBook ‘maintain, record and comply’ 3-step risk management system for keeping on top of all required essential safety measures.
The RedBook system streamlines the essential safety measure process. Under RedBook, your church is provided with an ‘operational manual’ designed specifically for your unique organisation. This means that you do not have to familiarise yourself with copious complex building codes in order to ensure that you meet your own specific safety obligations, and you are provided with a historical record and maintenance schedule in one package. Through RedBook, software is provided that produces the reports and records you need to conduct your church’s maintenance and safety checks and meet your obligations.
The Redbook manual contains details of your property and building profile, equipment lists, maintenance and inspection schedules and hard-copy records in one place, and by simplifying the whole process in this way, it becomes easier for churches to minimise the risk of non-compliance.
What are the essential safety measures?
There are more than fifty essential safety measures as defined by the BCA (Building Codes of Australia), seven of which are common in church buildings:
- Portable fire extinguishers.
- Fire blankets.
- Fire hose reels.
- Exit signs.
- Emergency lighting.
- Exit doors.
- Paths of travel to exits and discharge from exits.
While fire equipment should be regularly tested by qualified tradespeople, some of the other tests may be conducted by a competent or qualified person, depending on the type of test. Our induction training programs provide the information required on who can conduct tests, the records and tags that must be kept, and the Australian Standards that need to be met.
In addition to the above, it is a WorkSafe requirement that electrical testing and tagging is carried out by a qualified electrical tradesperson at least once every year in places of employment. More information on this can be found here.
What consequences are there for non-compliance?
Compliance audits may be conducted by WorkSafe, the Fire Brigade, insurance assessors, Council building surveyors or other authorities. In cases where care has been taken but an inadvertent omission has occurred, the organisation may be issued with a requirement to comply within a set period of time following the inspection. However if duty of care is found to be lacking the organisation faces the possibility of a substantial fine, or in some cases prosecution, building closure, and voiding of insurance. There is also the possibility of being sued if an injury or death has occurred. Compliance also helps to keep the organisation’s insurance claims and costs under better control.
For more information on essential safety measures, fire safety regulations for churches, or the RedBook program contact the CCI office. Our safety induction courses can also be accessed from the CCI website training page here.
Written by Tess OliverTags: fire, redbook, risk management