Occupant Safety Issues
New Year everyone!
month I would like to discuss occupant safety issues we might
encounter during an inspection. I believe there are two types;
one being the type an inspector would have to predict what
actions (some stupid) a person might take to put them in danger.
An example would be two men on a deck are having several alcoholic
drinks during a party. Both men weigh over 200 pounds. A disagreement
ensues and one gentleman is pushed rather hard into the deck
guardrail and it breaks, allowing the man to fall and be injured.
Is this something a home inspector should predict in a report?
Should the inspector have stress tested the rail to determine
it could withstand at least 200 psf. applied at the top from
any direction (IRC Table 301.5)? I think not for both questions.
However, I always give the rail a good shove with my hand
to form an opinion as to its integrity.
the future is outside the scope of a home inspection; to me
that means unusual or stupid acts by persons. However, most
national home inspection standards of practice require us
to inspect many components that may affect safety. Example
is the ASHI SOP; they require us to report on significantly
deficient items or systems and components that are near the
end of their service life. Significantly deficient is defined
as "unsafe or not functioning." Unsafe is defined
in part "judged to be significant risk of personal injury
during normal day to day use
" This seems to me
to exclude the unusual possible scenario requiring prediction
by the inspector.
said, the following are some items known to be potential safety
hazards that I believe warrant reporting the potential for
injury. This is by no means a complete list, merely some conditions
to get us thinking about the word "unsafe."
I said the above is a short list of potentials, just some
items for thought.
Lack of safety glass at areas subject to human impact.
I always report if there is the lack of label on glass
in showers, doors, windows next to doors and other locations
required by modern standards. I use modern standards (and
yes, that means "Code") as my guide for any
safety issue and recommend upgrading for enhanced safety.
heat exchangers. The hazard should be obvious to any home
inspector. Of course finding one that is visible is another
of GFCI protection in modern standards required locations.
Again I always suggest upgrade.
of proper handrails or guardrails - the hazards are obvious.
sectional fountain or other feature in the back yard.
The sections are not secured together and could easily
topple on a child. Do we check these? I think it is a
personal choice since recreational equipment, etc. are
not required to be inspected per national SOP.
fishpond or water feature on the property. Certainly an
attraction to children and a potential hazard to them.
I always comment about these, and of course any pool enclosure,
but again the SOP seems to leave this commenting option
to the inspector.
is one I never thought of until I worked on a case involving
one - the kitchen island with mud-set tile cantilevered
top. This one was not fastened to the floor and tipped
over killing a child. Do we stress test every kitchen
island to be sure it is fastened to the floor? I think
again that is up to the inspector.
top mounted equipment refrigerators and ovens and ranges
not properly fastened and/or lacking anti-tip devices.
Many national standards don't even require us to test
appliances. Do we evaluate them for safety, too? Once
again, that option is up to the inspector.
defect regarding electrical to me is a potential safety
hazard and I report as such. Yes, even a missing receptacle
about some plumbing issues, such as lack of backflow prevention
devices and/or cross connections? I believe these conditions
are risks to safety and report as such.
talk next month,
Kaplan Professional Schools
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