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Health and Safety UPCS

Garbage & Debris (H&S)

An H&S violation will be recorded if more than the planned storage capacity for garbage has gathered OR garbage has gathered in an area that is not sanctioned for staging or storing garbage or debris either indoors or outdoors. This violation is different from litter, as it relates to garbage or debris that results in an unsanitary condition.

Exposed Wires (EH&S)

Any exposed bare wires or openings in electrical panels that may expose bare wires. This includes any damage or other condition to an electrical panel, electrical box, or other electrical transformers that expose any gap of ¼" or more. Examples of this include, but may not be limited to, the following:

  • Misaligned Breaker Rows 
  • An Open Breaker Port in a Breaker Panel
  • Missing or Loose Screws in Electric Panel, exposing a gap
  • Shut Off Panel that can be opened while panel is in the on position
  • Outlets or Switches with missing or damaged covers
  • Damage to electrical components that expose connections
  • HVAC Component with unsecured cover
  • Light Fixture Missing a Light Bulb

*Note: Variants on the degree of the gap are not taken into account. In other words, the slightest gap of ¼" or more is interpreted the same as an entire panel cover missing.

Water Leaks On or Near Electrical

This is defined as water that is leaking, puddling, or ponding in the immediate area of any electrical apparatus. This could pose a risk of fire, electrocution or explosion. Examples of this include the following:

* Ponding or a puddle on the floor in front of a breaker panel or other electrical panel. Ponding should cover a significant portion of the floor, but any amount of ponding on the floor can potentially be considered an H&S issue.

* Rust or Evidence of Water Leak on Electrical Component or Panel Box – if any electrical component such as a breaker panel, shut off panel, junction box or outlet has any rust or any evidence of a water leak (such as severe water stains), it will be considered an H&S condition even if the condition is not currently active.

Air Quality Hazards

Indoor and outdoor spaces must be free from high levels of sewer gas, fuel gas, mold, mildew or other harmful pollutants. Indoor spaces must have adequate ventilation. Any of the following deficiencies will be recorded as H&S.

Mold/Mildew Air Quality Hazard

There is evidence of mold or mildew, especially in bathrooms, basements, and air outlets.

Propane/Gasses Detected

There is a strong propane, natural gas or methane gas odor that could pose a risk of explosion or fire OR pose a health risk if inhaled. 

Sewer Odor Detected

There are sewer odors that could pose a health risk if inhaled for prolonged periods. This can include missing or damaged clean out caps or missing drain covers, just to name a couple.

Blocked Emergency/Fire Exits

Exit Signs

Deficiency: Exit signs that clearly identify all emergency exits are missing OR there is no illumination in the area of the sign.

Notes: Exit Signs are not required under UPCS Inspection codes; e.g. there is no requirement that any room or building has any exit sign, or to a greater degree – a specific number of exit signs or specific location where the signs should be located. However, if a building has any exit sign or any evidence that a sign existed (such as remaining components, etc), then it shall be considered missing and will be recorded as an H&S Item.

The following can be cited: An exit sign is missing. Exit signs that clearly identify all emergency exits are missing OR there is no illumination in the area of the sign. This can also be cited if the exit sign has a test button and the exit sign does not stay illuminated during the test. It is designed to flash momentarily as it switches to battery backup power. There is no adjacent or other internal illumination in operation on or near the sign. For example: If there is a non-electrical exit sign, such as a metal or paper exit sign above a doorway, then there must be a permanent auxiliary lighting fixture that must function as designed near that exit sign.

Blocked Egress/Fire Exits

All buildings must have acceptable fire exits that are also properly marked and operational (this includes fire towers, stairway access doors, and external exits). These can include operable windows on the lower floors with easy access to the ground, or a back door opening onto a porch with a stairway leading to the ground.

All rooms in an inspected building must have at least two means of egress (emergency exit) unless the room was specifically designed without a second means of egress (e.g. a room with no windows). This section covers a few variants of this violation and addresses how it is often misunderstood or misinterpreted. All of these violations are Level 3, Exigent Health and Safety Violations

The following can be cited: The exit cannot be used or exit is limited because a door or window is nailed shut, a lock is broken, panic hardware is chained, debris, storage or other conditions. This H&S item is covered in greater detail under Units and Common Areas. There are many variants on this violation and it is often considered to be one of the most misinterpreted violations in UPCS Inspection codes or REAC Inspections.

Inoperable Window Hardware

A deficiency will result if a window is inoperable due to damaged hardware, such as spring balances causing the window to fall, creating a condition where the egress window can no longer be used as an emergency exit due to the condition of the window. The most common incidence of this violation occurs when one of the two means of egress is a window that either cannot open or will not stay open on its own without the aid of special tools. It is important to note that this is applicable in every room in the building, regardless of its use, access by residents or other intended purposes.

Blocked windows or doors

This deficiency will result if a large fixed object such as a bed or dresser is positioned directly in front of a window or door causing the egress to be blocked. To determine if this condition exists, try to move the furniture or heavy object in one simple motion (such as flattening a lightweight headboard) or climbing over the object. In some instances, light weight materials may not be considered a blocked egress but it is up to the discretion of the inspector and it is recommended to proceed with caution.

Air Conditioner in Window

This deficiency will result if an air conditioner has been placed in a window, blocking one of the two means of egress – this air conditioner is considered to be blocking the egress of the area 

Flammable Materials

Flammable materials or combustible materials are improperly stored near a heat or electrical source, causing the potential risk of fire or explosion. Any substance that is either known to be combustible or flammable, or is stored in a container identifying it as such is an L3 H&S. This can contain items such as WD-40, Goof-Off Stain Remover, Spray Paint, paper, boxes, gasoline, gas powered equipment, etc. Items such as nail polish remover have also been cited. These items can be cited if they are found in units or any common areas. They can be stored in fire safe cabinets or in a building that is not connected with any units.

This item can be interpreted in many ways and is up to the inspector's interpretation of how the rule is written whether you feel it constitutes as a deficiency or not. If an accident or explosion occurs and the deficiency was not recorded, then the inspector may be held liable. Boxes, paper or plastic stored in an oven can be a deficiency as well as a tenant smoking with an oxygen tank nearby. The terminology stored near a heat or electrical source has recently been included to diminish the frequency of deficiencies for a tenant having WD-40 or other like materials that can be bought in a typical grocery or hardware store being stored under a kitchen sink, for example. This was, predominantly, intended to prevent tenants from storing flammable items near water heaters or things of that nature. Most importantly to remember: each inspector's best judgment determines the application of this rule.

Gasoline-fueled power equipment with gasoline in the tank stored in a residential building's basement is an Improperly Stored deficiency and Lawnmower/gasoline that is properly stored in a garage must not be recorded as an H&S deficiency 

Other Hazards

Other hazards are defined as the presence of physical hazards that pose a risk of bodily injuries such as sharp edges and tripping hazards. A few examples of other hazards can consist of exposed nails, loose floor tiles, oil leak from a furnace causing a slippery surface, a risk of indoor or outdoor components falling on someone, inoperable carbon monoxide detectors, hypodermic needles or other bio/chemical hazards, etc.

Sharp Edges

Any physical defect that could cause cutting or breaking the human skin or other bodily harm; generally in commonly used or traveled areas. A few examples would consist of: Broken Windows (Any Location) that expose a sharp edge Broken glass on grounds, site, or in common area – such as a broken bottle Damaged medicine cabinet exposing sharp edges Damaged HVAC Heater panel with exposed sharp edges on the exposed heater fins. 

Tripping

Any physical defect that poses a tripping risk; generally in walkways or other traveled areas. Typically, the defect must present at least a ¾" deviation. This condition is defined as a variance of ¾" in a walking surface or a condition that creates a hazardous condition due to a degraded or compromised walking surface, examples are listed below:

  • A cement walkway that has shifted creating a rise variance of ¾" in the walkway surface
  • A clean out cap in a walkway that has sunken or has regressed into the surface, creating a large hole in the walkway – more than ¾" deep and large enough for a foot to get caught in.
  • A spalled surface on a step on stairs creating a hazardous condition.
  • A wire or cord that is fixed at both ends (e.g. secured and not loose) that has been placed on a walking surface. (For cracks of ¾" wide see walkways/steps or parking lots/roadways/driveways).
  • Tripping in Systems (see below) refers to Tripping – Elevators 

Infestation

This violation refers to the presence of rats or severe infestation by mice or insects such as roaches, termites, ants, etc. There are some inspectors that site fruit flies in this category as well. Evidence of roaches such as excrement around outlets or breaker boxes and even dead roaches found under kitchen sinks, etc, will also be considered to be evidence of this violation. This violation also includes evidence of mice droppings or nests on window sills, kitchen areas, etc. If a unit is infested, ensure that a proper unit clean-up is a priority after termination.

Note:

  1. Evidence of infestation that consists of one dead reach or just roach droppings but no actually visually verified live infestation should be recorded as Hazards – Other. If two dead roaches are observed in one area or one live roach, then the inspector should record it under infestation. If ONE or more mouse droppings are observed or a live/dead mouse is observed, then the inspector should record it under infestation. The exception for Hazards-Other only applies to a single dead roach or just roach droppings.
  2. If you see baits, traps, or sticky boards that show no presence of vermin or insects, do not record this as a deficiency. 

Contact Us

  • US Housing Consultants
  • 160 Dover Road# 6, Chichester, NH, 03258
  • Phone: (603) 223-0003
  • Fax: (603) 736-4777
  • Email: info@us-hc.com
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U.S. Housing Consultants, Real Estate Consultants, Epsom, NH