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Making extensions or structural alterations to your building? Consider these factors...

by , 25 September 2013
There are certain factors you must take into account when you make extensions or structural alterations to your premises. If you don't, these are just some of the challenges you may face...

There are many laws that impact on health and safety in the workplace that need to be read in conjunction with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, says the Health & Safety Advisor.

One of these laws is the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act no. 103 of 1977.

The most important standard incorporated in this Act is SABS 0400. This gives detail required for particular buildings according to their occupancy classification.

This means when you make extensions or structural alterations to your premises, you must make sure you get an occupancy certificate for the new sections. If you overlook this, not only will you be contravening the Act, but you'll also face the following challenges…

Here are the typical challenges that arise when building occupancy is different from the original purpose or if design population is not considered:

Challenge #1: Exceeding design population

  • Emergency routes may be overloaded and not adequate to allow all employees in the area to evacuate quickly or safely.
  • Emergency routes may be blocked off by the construction of add-on buildings like storerooms.
  • Insufficient toilets. Employees may have to queue to use toilets. But the biggest problem is that the sewage waste will exceed the design capacity and you'll have endless problems with toilets blocking up.
  • The intake of fresh oxygenated air may be insufficient for the number of people in your building. This can cause many health issues. Remember that high carbon dioxide levels are one of the signs of 'sick building' syndrome.

Challenge #2: Building used for different purpose than the intended design

If the design occupancy doesn't meet the requirements for current usage, this could impact on:

  • Fire safety distance between buildings
  • Fire resistance of walls, flooring and other building materials
  • Amount of natural light
  • Ventilation
  • Access and egress may be compromised
  • Ergonomic problems arise with space constraints. For example, insufficient workspace, and storage areas

To avoid these challenges, make sure you comply with the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act when you make extensions to your premises. This'll help ensure you meet the specifications of the building plans.

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