5 steps to achieving multi-site compliance excellence

by FM Media
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The steps to ensure compliance across multiple sites are noted by CHARLES HAMMERSLA, national compliance manager for facilities at Kmart Australia.

With the recent release of AS1851–2012, it is prudent to reflect on the web of legislative and regulatory requirements that facilities managers face today. In the tenant/landlord relationship scenario, ensuring robust facilities compliance across properties can be seen to be even more onerous. Success in this aspect of facilities management can be achieved through a staged process of data gathering, contractor engagement, consistent reporting and continual review.

At the forefront of facilities compliance is building information accuracy. Each building’s characteristics and its requisite maintenance requirements must be known. Depending on the jurisdiction, the maintenance strategy employed for each building may change and specialist advice may be required to cement those requirements. For tenants, an accurate interpretation of the maintenance and repair provisions in their leases should be obtained to cover off on the general scope of responsibility.

The next step towards compliance is the engagement of appropriate contractors, which will need to complete the requisite, prescribed tasks. Many standards make reference to the requirement to employ ‘suitably qualified’ contractors. This is certainly the case with fire protection, air-conditioning and electrical contractors. While the ability to complete a job is important, we are only as good as the contractors we have on the ground, so contractor quality is also a key factor in selection and retention.
While these initial steps are more or less common sense, they must be tackled thoroughly to ensure the success of the overall compliance strategy.

Step three involves setting the prescribed tasks to be undertaken, their frequency and also the method of tracking and reporting of activities. The contractors will be able to provide specific guidance on the first of these two; however, the third will require careful thought. For a multi-site and multi-jurisdictional situation, the single best solution for tracking contractor performance is by implementing an online, web-based reporting and contractor compliance system.
This system must be capable of providing reports on test completions and should be able to display completed logbook sheets if possible. This functionality allows the facilities team to remotely view and access site-specific information from anywhere and also allows high level performance monitoring. There are service providers in this field that provide an end-to-end solution, including logbooks, online reporting tools and customer support.
The contractors who will employ this system on your behalf must be trained in its use. Further, compliance with that system must serve as a clear, measurable, and non-negotiable key performance indicator (KPI) in their contracts. Frankly, the contractor’s performance must be based on their performance as tracked by that system. Should the system indicate that the contractor has missed a task, the facilities manager should not pay for that task.

The penultimate step in the road to achieving facilities compliance excellence is consistent, frequent reporting of tasks completed. Given that the contractor is being judged on its performance in completing specific tasks, and that those tasks by virtue grant building compliance, a structured reporting schedule should be developed by the facilities team to both maintain control of the servicing and to apply consistency in the overall review of compliance.
Unless a contractor is monitored in this way, the facilities team will have no knowledge of how compliant its buildings are from a testing perspective and it will not be able to gauge whether it is keeping them up to code.

Finally, it must be ensured that the sites’ compliance is continually reviewed. Has a standard changed? Do tests need to be amended to suit new conditions or equipment? Has a refurbishment been undertaken? These reviews need to occur frequently. There are multiple online alert subscription services that a facilities team can subscribe to; however, maintaining a close relationship with your contractors will ensure that they keep you abreast of any important developments.
By tackling the steps above, you will be well on your way to feeling confident that your premises – wherever they are – remain compliant and safe.

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