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HOME & BUILDING INSPECTORS & INSPECTION METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS & REPAIRS
ANIMAL ENTRY POINTS in buildings
ANIMAL ODORS IN buildings
AFCIs ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN buildings
ATTORNEYS and EXPERT WITNESSES
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
BACTERIAL PATHOGENS in FRUIT & VEGETABLES
BOD WASTEWATER TEST
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLUE vs YELLOW COMBUSTION FLAMES
BRICK STRUCTURAL WALL Loose Bulged
BRICK VENEER WALL Loose, Bulged
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
Carbon Nanotube Materials
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
Chimney Crack & Collapse Risks, Repairs
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
CIRCUIT BREAKER FAILURE
DECK FLASHING LEAKS, ROT Case Study
DEFECT CLUSTERS at HOME INSPECTIONS
DIRECTORY of BUILDING INSPECTORS
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
ELECTRICAL GROUND SYSTEM INSPECTION
ELECTRIC PANEL INSPECTION
EMF ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS & EXPOSURE
ENVIRO-SCARE- PUBLIC FEAR CYCLES
FEDERAL PACIFIC FPE HAZARDS
FIBER CEMENT & FIBERBOARD ROOFING
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIRE CLEARANCES, Single-Wall Metal Flues
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FIRE PROTECTION FOR FOAM BOARD INSULATION
FIRE RATINGS for ROOF SURFACES
FIRE RETARDANT PLYWOOD
FIREPLACES & HEARTHS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOD DAMAGE TO FOUNDATIONS
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLOODED SEPTIC SYSTEMS, REPAIR
FLOODED WATER HEATER REPAIR
FLOODS IN BUILDINGS, MOLD PREVENTION
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
GAS HEAT ODORS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GLUES ADHESIVES, EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION
Goodman HTPV RECALL
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
HEATING OIL EXPOSURE HAZARDS, LIMITS
HOT WATER HEATERS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
INSULATION IDENTIFICATION GUIDE
Lennox SAFETY WARNING
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MOBILE HOME INSPECTIONS
MOLD in buildings
MOLD RELATED ILLNESS GUIDE
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
NOISE CONTROL for HEATING SYSTEMS
NOISES COMING FROM WATER HEATER
ODORS & SMELLS DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS FROM HEATING SYSTEMS
OIL BURNER NOISE SMOKE ODORS
OIL BURNER SOOT & PUFFBACKS
OIL SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION
OIL TANK ABANDONING PROCEDURE
OIL TANK PIPING & PIPING DEFECTS
OIL TANK PRESSURE
OUTHOUSES & LATRINES
Outhouse or Latrine Fire and Explosion
OZONE for MOLD OR ODORS
PARTICLE SIZES & IAQ
Particulates & Allergens Indoors
Pesticide Exposure Hazards
PET ALLERGENS / PET DANDER
PLASTIC CONTAINERS, TANKS, TYPES
PLASTIC HEATER VENT
PLASTIC ODORS-SCREENS, SIDING
PLUMBING SYSTEM ODORS
PUSHMATIC - BULLDOG PANELS
RADON HAZARD TESTS & MITIGATION
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
SEWAGE CONTAMINANTS in FRUIT / VEGETABLES
SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE
SEWER GAS ODORS
SLAB CRACK EVALUATION
SPILL SWITCHES - Flue Gas Detection
Splits in Structural Wood Beams
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
TANK TYPES: WATER, OIL, EXPANSION, ALL
THERMAL TRACKING Indicates Heat Loss
UNLINED FLUE INSPECTIONS
VAPOR BARRIERS & HOUSEWRAP
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VISUAL PERCEPTION ERRORS
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WINDOWS & DOORS
ZINSCO / SYLVANIA HAZARDS
Building safety hazards class outline: here we list major building & indoor environmental safety hazards, and we discuss how to detect and protect from safety & environmental hazards in homes and other buildings. We include links to detailed safety articles on important building hazards facing home owners, property owners, tenants, office workers, and repair contractors as well as for building and home inspectors, contractors, and for building owners who need to inspect or test the condition of their building. For full details of this topic see SAFETY HAZARDS & INSPECTIONS.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
- Daniel Friedman 03/26/2008 - Connecticut Association of Home Inspectors
Abstract - this brief paper is a summary of HOME INSPECTION SAFETY HAZARDS a detailed document providing safety advice for home inspectors. See the complete list of building & environmental safety hazards listed at the left of this page. Home Inspection Safety Course - Accident prevention for home inspectors: the purpose of this class and the accompanying web article at /home_inspection/Inspection_Safety.htm is to reduce the chance of serious injury or death for home inspectors, other building inspectors, and building occupants.
The range of hazards faced by home inspectors in the course of examining buildings is considerable. It includes obvious catastrophes such as falling off of a roof or electrocution, and less obvious or less likely events such as structural collapse, exposure to bacterial hazards, fungal hazards, or even physical attack by violent building occupants, biting dogs, sneaky snakes, and pecking parrots.
Home inspectors and other professional building diagnosticians are expected to be observant and attentive to detail. Despite these skills, accidents happen to inspectors.
A Canadian home inspector fell to his death during a roofing inspection. He was ascending a high ladder which he suspected was unsafe. Following a home inspection in New Paltz, NY, Ballinger, a real estate agent who was angry with the results of the inspection, attacked and attempted to kill Steve Vermilye by driving his car off of the pavement, across a sidewalk, crashing into a building wall where Vermilye was walking. Another home inspector was badly injured when an attic fold-down stair fell out of its opening as the inspector was climbing it.
Hazards that an inspector should recognize affect other people too. An aggressive tenant threatened two elderly inspection clients with a rifle and then showered them with stones. An electrical inspector was killed by an electrical arc explosion while removing the cover of an electrical panel. A plumber was killed while leaning over a water pressure tank that, lacking a pressure relief valve, exploded.
We will list some of the more egregious and more interesting of these dangerous building hazards, review accident case histories, and we will illustrate procedures of attention, observation, and hazard recognition that can reduce the chances of accidents during building inspections.
People are not rational about safety
We are more afraid of improbable hazards beyond our control (EMF) than we are of probable hazards over which we have control (smoking cigarettes).
We do not perceive risk accurately
Some accidents are more or less likely to occur than we believe. Some accidents are likely to result in greater or lesser degree of injury than we believe. Having a more accurate picture of where hazardous risks lie can help us learn to properly attend accident risks and thus to avoid accidents.
Total Risk = (Probability of Occurrence) x (Cost of Occurrence)
The attention we pay to various risks needs to be adjusted continuously as we move through a building from area to area (basement to roof) and topic to topic (plumbing to electrical).
Tune risk recognition to area and system: The home inspector's recognition of risks needs to attend the hazards peculiar to each building area and system.
Educate to improve hazard recognition and to teach safe inspection procedures: The level of inspector technical education affects the inspector's ability to recognize hazards and to reduce accidents.
List of Building & Mechanical System Related Safety Topics: Readers should see our list of major building & indoor environmental safety hazards, inspection methods, & remedies listed at the left of these pages. Readers should also see our list of building inspector safety articles at Home Inspection Education & Services - Safety Articles.
Falling, Tripping, Slipping Hazards & Lifting Hazards
The accident rate of injury by slipping, tripping, or falling is among the highest facing home inspectors and home owners.
Falls: The highest risk of injury by falls occurs among the elderly but falls are a particular hazard for home inspectors because of the need to access attics, roofs, and also simply because of the distractions while inspecting any building site. "Falls represent the most frequent non-transportation related accidents occurring among older adults and are the leading cause of home fatalities for this population.
Canadian home inspector fatality, inspector ascending exterior ladder secured to building knew the ladder was unsafe, told his wife he was afraid of it but felt he had to ascend to inspect the roof during a multi-day inspection of a large building. The ladder came away from the building and the inspector fell to his death. (Ca. 1998) (see ROOF INSPECTION SAFETY & LIMITS for more details on this topic).
Hazards to Avoid When Inspecting Roofs
The author has consulted in depth concerning fall injuries and has performed case studies investigating stair and rail accident and injury lawsuits. The full paper and the class materials reviewed several falling lawsuits for which the author was consulted.
Home inspectors are qualified to observe, photo document, and report on physical conditions at a building, such as stairs which are defective for any of a variety of reasons.
How to Avoid Stair, & Railing & Ladder Accidents
Note bad steps and rails to yourself and report orally and in writing to your clients
Unsafe attic stairs
Details and an extensive catalog of causes of trips and falls on all types of stairs can be found at STAIR FALL & TRIP HAZARDS.
Here we give some tips on how to inspect the electrical panel, including the risks of relying on test instruments (resistance drops do not equal bad connections).
http://InspectAPedia.com/electric/ElecPanelInsp.htm How to Inspect Residential Electrical Panels
See the following articles:
Gas tank or gas piping leaks are a potential explosion or fire hazard. There may also be carbon monoxide or other asphyxiation hazards from equipment malfunctions.
Detecting gas leaks, appliance safety controls, what to do when a leak is detected, when to shut down unsafe heating equipment.
Masonry structures such as this carriage house in Saugerties, NY, can be very unstable and risk sudden even imminent sudden collapse, depending on just how it is damaged. Broken bond courses in brick are a particular concern
Wood framing and sheathing, especially unsafe roof framing or rotted sheathing
The author inspected this deck and warned of its probable collapse, indicated that it was dangerous, informed the client to "stay off of the deck" until it was repaired.
The author re-inspected the collapsed deck to photograph construction details that led to the structural failure of this component. Litigation was broached.
Watch out: See PLASTER, LOOSE FALL HAZARDS for examples of bulged plaster that may be danger signs, including an example of a collapse of an expanded wire lath ceiling that had been improperly installed.
Watch out: often the framing supporting plaster ceilings in homes built before 1900 was sized to be just strong enough to support the weight of the plaster itself. Such ceiling structures were not intended to support the weight of a curious home owner or home inspector.
Inspection Hazards at Septic Systems, Drywells, Cesspools
Bacterial (sewage) and fungal (mold) hazards for home inspectors may be present if there has been sewage backup.
http://InspectAPedia.com/oiltanks/tanks.htm Heating Oil Underground & Above ground Oil Storage Tank Leaks, Testing, Problems & Solutions, Home Buyer's / Home Owner's Guide
Problematic and larger mold reservoirs may be present; risk varies by extent, history, location of leaks, building materials used, mechanical disturbance of moldy materials, other factors.
How to recognize problem molds and cosmetic molds by visual inspection - is it possible? Learn to recognize obviously cosmetic-only mold infections such as BlueStain.
What level of mold exposure is likely to be a risk to home inspectors? More than 30 sq .ft. of highly-airborne-type mold or even small areas of toxic mold if touched to an open cut or an eye.
Mold Inspection / Detection / Testing References:
Dealing with violent or threatening building occupants, dogs, spiders, snakes, rats, other pests; weapons, threats, realtors. When and how to leave a threatening environment. How to get the inspection done.
Note: For reasons that will be apparent, I do not have photographs of these encounters.
Assess the level of risk, monitor and change the assessment as needed Maintain professionalism, calmness, do not respond to hostility. As a professional guiding clients through a building:
Ask that dogs be off premises or confined in areas not to be entered during the inspection. Same for other potentially dangerous or hard to control pets. Do not permit owner's pets to escape, be lost, injured.
Bad People: Leaving the Premises Where Occupants Make Threats
Leave the premises if:
Contact: owner, realtor(s), attorneys, and if appropriate, police;
Do not return to the property without assurance that the potentially dangerous party is not on and will not be on or at the premises
What is the Right or Obligation of a Licensed Home Inspector to
The "last man in the building" is typically held responsible for subsequent catastrophes such as exploding equipment, fires, shocks, collapses. A professional is expected to be able to observe, evaluate, and act appropriately.
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