Building Compliance: How safe is your building? 

With a combined 267 years’ experience behind us, our business experience at Cairnmead Industrial Consultants is your advantage. More than just a commodity we trade, we got into this area because of our passion for health and safety. We believe that safe spaces are productive spaces, and beyond the legal requirements of Emergency Preparedness, the truth is this: if your team feels considered and protected, they will want to keep coming to work. If your visitors see that you take their health and safety seriously, they will continue to visit with ease and frequency. 

We recently published a blog on Emergency Preparedness where you can see the many aspects covered regarding emergency protocols that need to be established and followed out with regards to, for example: a fire in your workplace.  

But beyond important strategies around emergency committees, assembly points and fire drills (to name just a few), there are important standards of Building Compliance that also need to be adhered to. Building Compliance should work in tandem to the robust plans you put in place for emergency procedures, while focusing on more of the actual level of readiness with regards to the compliance of the building itself. 

As we discussed stairways and ramps (particularly in the context of disability protocols), there are additional emergency evacuation elements that need attention.  

Getting started 

Once you know your building, have determined its safety exits and where your emergency assembly points should be, you’re halfway there. Remember: the more informed your employees are, the safer they will be in the event of an emergency, so once you have established the strategy, you need to communicate and signpost it accordingly. 

We would work with you to: 

  • Conduct an Emergency Preparedness assessment 
  • Develop a plan and procedure
  • Implement the plan through training and awareness 
  • Test the plan and run fire drills 
  • As well as assist in establishing a committee that will be capable of dealing with an emergency situation.


You wouldn’t climb a mountain without the right hiking boots, would you? Being ready to face an emergency is about being kitted out with the most appropriate gear to help you handle the emergency in the safest ways possible. Cairnmead works with you to set up your equipment inventory to help you manage your emergency effectively. We supply you with: 

  • Reflective jackets and bibs 
  • Loud hailers 
  • Evacuation wheelchairs 
  • Spine boards 
  • First Aid kits 
  • Spillage kits 
  • Signage, etc.

There are specific requirements to how and where fire-fighting equipment is installed, so that these items are easily accessible in the event of a fire emergency. 

Extinguishers need to be fitted with brackets to a wall whereby the carrying handle is no higher than 1.5m from the ground, and where the bottom of the canister has a space of no less than 3cm from the ground. 

Once your extinguishers have been correctly installed, remember to post the appropriate signage so that the location and visibility of these items is accessible information to all in the building. 

Fire Exit Doors 

A fire in the building is likely to cause havoc with the electrical setup, so doors that work on access buzzers are likely to remain locked and thereby present an unnerving reality for those people potentially trapped inside. This is why there are both legal and technical requirements to how fire escape doors work; the way they are installed, the ways they operate, and the education around these within the workplace. 

Remember: Fire escape diagrams should be developed according to legal standards and placed in accessible areas throughout the building, indicating: 

  • You are here 
  • Escape Routes 
  • Emergency Equipment 
  • Emergency Contact Numbers 
  • Emergency Assembly Points  

The actual exit doorways are required by law to meet the strictest standards and be fitted with: 

  • Self closing device 
  • Date plate to indicate the type of door fitted 
  • Each floor along the staircase must be numbered (and visible from the stairwell) 
  • Emergency light to be installed at fire exit doors 
  • Internally-illuminated signage (at certain doors, in accordance with the building’s design) 

Elevators (Lifts)
Lifts are required to be connected to the fire detection and alarm system and — in the event of a fire — the lift is automatically brought to the main entrance floor without stopping and remains there with its doors open.

Signage should be clearly posted and communicate that the use of lifts during a fire is prohibited. 

With regards to industrial lifts it is important to note the following: 

  • Fireman’s Lift: Clearly signposted on all floors 
  • Goods Lift: Ensure regular inspections have been carried by a certified inspection service provider 

Behind the scenes  

It’s not always the most obvious things that fall into Building Compliance categories. The way urinals are installed in the men’s toilets is one such example. While this may not be a part of your daily concern, it is about employee rights and is something that can count against you in the event of an inspection. 

Disabled Parking 

More obvious are things like disabled toilets and disabled parking — following the appropriate protocols to make accessibility for disabled persons an easily manageable solution. With parking, it’s all about the distance from the main entrance, length and space between cars and the way these parking spaces are marked. 

Electrical Installations 

Certificates of the installation should be kept on file for easy access in the event of an inspection of follow up regarding faults. Remember: All electrical installations need to be signposted with the appropriate specs and warnings. 

Heights Climbing 

Fixed ladders attached to vertical structures are required to adhere to certain mandatories regarding how far they are from the wall (150mm minimum), support around the back, specified heights from the ground up and those which extend over the highest part of the area the ladder is attached to. Speak to us to make sure your fixed ladders are compliant with the relevant Building By Laws. 

Public Safety 

Public safety extends into pedestrian crossings within parking lots and/or at entrances and exits to the building, and how these are demarcated. This also impacts changes in levels on balconies, bridges, flat roofs etc., and safety measures around roofs that can be accessed by individuals. 

Public safety also extends to responsibilities around accessibility (security) into your premises and all signage in and around your building that communicates your safety protocols and where safety equipment (fire extinguishers etc.) is located. 

Don’t forget to take a look at our blog on Emergency Preparedness, where you will see the many other procedural aspects that we covered regarding how to handle an emergency in the workplace. 

Here’s the really important part 
Don’t let Building Compliance overwhelm you. Yes, this looks like a lot to have to adhere to, but the important thing to remember is that you have an experienced, verified partner in Cairnmead Industrial Consultants. We know the inside-out details of both the law and best-practice solutions; the things that work! 

Don’t let the onslaught of an emergency be something your organisation isn’t ready for.  

Visit our site to explore some of our proudest achievements in the Occupation Health and Safety space, or contact us about your needs and let’s put our combined 267 years’ experience to work for you. 

Christof Lourens 

CEO Cairnmead Industrial Consultants (Pty) Ltd 

Tel: 012 346 5752 | Email:

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