Workplace Solutions Facility safety Spills Seasonal safety: Spring

Water damage prevention planning

Which locations in my building are at highest risk for water leaks, and how can I prevent them?


Responding is Heidi Shetler, director of new market development, New Pig Corp., Tipton, PA.

Whether it’s from a leaky roof, broken pipe or rainy day, water can become one of the largest risks in a facility – and can cause some of the largest costs to a property manager or employer. We can’t control the weather, but we can control the impact water has on a business. According to the insurance industry, water damage is one of the leading causes cited in damage claims, yet only a small percentage of businesses take the time to develop a water damage prevention plan. Let’s take a look at some of the highest-impact water events and how you can stay ahead of potential damage and associated injuries.

Safety at the entrance

Weather-related water problems often are unpredictable, but controlling and containing this risk at the front door will establish the framework for safety throughout your facility.

A surefire matting system at entrances can be a key tool, and having a firm grasp on use and maintenance is vital to success. Ensuring the amount of matting coverage is wide enough and long enough will keep water from puddling and broaden your water-containment net. Combining proper area coverage with routine cleaning and maintenance checks to prevent or remove free-standing water will mitigate the potential for a water hazard to progress to a slip hazard. Consider floor blowers as a support tool to deploy on rainy days.

Plumbing headaches

Pipe bursts, a puncture or even just a slow drip can turn into a much bigger problem. Taking the time to make sure pipes are insulated from temperature changes and keeping cleanup equipment on hand can be huge time-savers. Items such as pipe diverters to catch and direct water, pipe wraps or plugs to stop water flow, and general cleanup products can be crucial during a water crisis. Blowers and dehumidifiers are also great tools to ensure water intrusion doesn’t cause a mold issue. Knowing where the water shut-off valves are located is key, too.

Water intrusions via leaky roofs

Water intrusions typically happen during high rainfall events. The impact can be controlled by putting some general maintenance protocols in place. Regular inspections to remove debris and buildup, along with making necessary repairs to flashing or shingles, can pay dividends. Be sure to clean off accumulated ice and snow so roofing materials don’t weaken or create ice dams that prevent proper draining. Be prepared with roof leak diverters to temporarily, yet effectively, catch and redirect water while you make more permanent repairs. And if you live in a flood zone, be prepared with drain plugs that can seal drains quickly during high water events.

Unfortunately, no matter what we do, we still often end up with roof leaks. By understanding and planning around your water risk areas and employing a sound maintenance plan, you can effectively reduce property damage and improve safety within your operation.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the authors and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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