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Routine Property Inspections Help Prevent Losses

The South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund encourages all of their members to inspect all municipal properties and buildings on a biannual basis to ensure that all facilities have their hazards identified and abated. The city or town should document each inspection and keep the inspection record for at least five years.  

The inspection process should always keep safety as the top priority and should never put employees in harm's way. For example, if employees who are completing the inspection have not had ladder or fall protection training, the employee should not use a ladder, nor should they attempt to get more than 4 feet off of the ground until they can complete training on the proper use of a ladder. This training is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for ladder use. 

The same is true for electrical hazards that may be present in a municipal building. Electrical hazards are generally kept in check by the design of the electrical devices themselves, since they are engineered to be safe when the devices are sold to the end user. If all electrical panels in a building are installed up to code according to the National Fire Protection Association 70E standard, then a building inspector should have minimal hazardous exposure to electrical issues. 

Building inspection 

Building inspections have the goal of maintaining municipal property, as well as identifying and mitigating potential hazards that could result in a property loss.  

When inspecting the building, workers should check for any water damage or discoloration of roofing membranes, or discoloration of interior and exterior walls. They should inspect all roof drains so they are not clogged or damaged. Also, pipe stub-out boots should be in good condition and in good repair.  

Inspectors should check the exterior facade for cracks in the mortar joints of the bricks. They should also look for damaged vinyl siding where water intrusion could cause damage to the interior walls.  

HVAC and electrical closets should be inspected to make sure no combustibles are stored next to a heating source. 

All chemicals should be kept in closed containers and have the Safety Data Sheets available to inform the employees of the first aid and personal protective equipment requirements among the other hazards. 

During cold weather, workers should drain all exposed water pipes and cover them with insulating material, such as an electrical pipe wrap that detects the temperature and turns on a heating element to prevent the pipe from freezing. Some foam pipe wraps can be applied to exposed pipes or spigots to prevent freezing. Supervisors should not allow space heaters to be used in any buildings. On the exterior, workers should cut all tree limbs and foliage away from the building. 

Inspection of public spaces 

Public space inspections are a critical part of preventing injury or property damage to third-party claimants.  

Inspectors should check all sidewalks, identify hazards and mark them with high-visibility paint and cones until the dangerous area can be scarified or cut out and removed.  

Trees that are not maintained can pose a serious danger to employees and members of the public. A certified arborist should perform inspections to identify potential problems, such as dying trees or limbs that could fall on an individual or on someone’s property. These hazards should be removed by experienced professionals. Inspectors can also look and see if the tree roots are causing the sidewalk to create a tripping hazard on the municipal-owned streets and sidewalks.  

Risk Management Services provides a building Self Inspection Checklist to help cities and towns audit hazards and abate them immediately. Contact John Ciesielski at or 803.730.3828 to have an onsite evaluation of properties.