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What you need to know about building occupancy and health and safety management

by , 03 October 2013
There are many laws that impact on health and safety in the workplace you need to be read in conjunction with the Occupational Health and Safety Act or Mine Health and Safety Act. One of these laws is the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act. Read on to discover what the Act says about building occupancy and health and safety management.

It's important your business is compliant with the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act.

'The most important standard incorporated in this Act is SABS 0400 which gives detail required for particular buildings according to their occupancy classification,' says the Health&Safety Advisor.

It's crucial that you have a thorough understanding of this provision and align it with the health and safety management requirements of your business.

The link between building occupancy and health and safety management

Occupancy: According to the Health&Safety Advisor, this is the use or the type of use for which a building or portion of the building is normally used or intends to be used.

Basically, building occupancy is classified according to the intended use. Many of the design criteria are specific to this use. For example, high risk industrial premises will differ from a low risk commercial building. And the requirements for a hotel are different to a personal home.

If the building is used for other purposes than what it was designed for, it may not meet health and safety requirements.

Design population: In the planning stages of the building, the intended purpose will inform what space is required per person.

If it's known at the planning stage, for example, how many people will be in the building, then it's quite easy to plan.

Where the actual number of occupants is unknown, a table is provided in section A21 of the Act for calculating the amount of space required per person for that type of occupancy.

Bear in mind that the challenge to manage health and safety arises when the building is used for something other than its design purpose.

Occupancy certificate: Once a building has been completed, the local authority conducts an inspection and certifies the building fit for occupation if it meets the specifications of the building plans.

The building may then be used for the purpose it was built. This is important for managing health and safety.

Now that you know the link between building occupancy and health and safety management, make sure you comply with the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act.
 

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