Keeping maintenance in mind is crucial, and keeping accurate records should be an important part of that. Here are four strategies to consider.


Most facility managers know the importance of record keeping for maintenance repairs and inspections of all systems and equipment in institutional and commercial facilities.

Incomplete or missing maintenance or inspection reports can lead to major problems when a building owner wants to sell commercial property or in a situation involving a legal issue such as injury or death occurring as a result of a structural collapse or machine malfunction in an institutional setting,” says Aaron Zimmerman, a partner at construction defects law firm Berding & Weil.

“The people documenting these issues, the people who actually keep the records – the plant engineers, the maintenance staff, even the janitors – don’t think that in six years we’re going to be on trial. “, said Zimmerman. said.

The importance of documenting maintenance and inspections came to the fore after the June 24, 2021 tragedy in Miami, when 98 people were killed when a condo collapsed. The aftermath revealed several clues in inspection records that pointed to overlooked or overlooked issues that may have contributed to the tragedy.

The tragedy amplifies the need for facility managers to not only keep good records, but also to act on repairs when the situation calls for it.

“For years and years, the people in charge of these maintenance obligations have wanted to take shortcuts, pinch pennies, and say they want nothing to do with it right now,” Zimmerman says of a common situation that unfolds for his profession. . “And then years or decades later, it all hits the fan and the damage is catastrophic.”

Zimmerman offers four suggestions for managers looking to improve their recordkeeping process.

1. Get everyone on the same page

Although most technicians have access to a spreadsheet or their department’s computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to record repairs, be sure that all employees document the same way.

“Having too many hands on it, with too many styles applied to the same problem and the same process is absolutely problematic,” says Zimmerman. “And different building owners in different organizations are going to have different structures, but I think it’s very important that there is quality control and streamlining of the process.”

2. Inform new employees

Staff turnover can cause problems, so it is important that new hires are trained on how the record keeping process works.

“You have a new manager coming in and he’s not as familiar with the process, and he’s applying what he did to his last job,” Zimmerman says. “People need to be educated about it, counseled about it, so it has to come down to a small number of people who are connected to this issue and then they can clean up and consolidate anything that logs the maintenance team or others down the ladder have applied to the record keeping process.

3. Emphasize the importance of good record keeping

Staying on top of repair and maintenance documentation upfront prepares managers for any issues such as litigation that may arise in the future.

“Something that needs to be conveyed to the people who will be in charge of this is that it’s not enough to scribble a few words on our iPad or type a few words into our Excel spreadsheet,” says Zimmerman. “We want to be more rigorous. We can take field notes that are condensed, but ultimately someone has to be aware that these recordings live forever with the building, so we have to be careful that they are buttoned up.

4. Keep maintenance in mind

Regular maintenance meetings are a good way to make record keeping a priority for technicians.

“It’s something that needs to be reviewed, whether it’s on a yearly or quarterly basis, but go back and take a look at the maintenance records and see where the issues are,” Zimmerman says. “Close them saying we have documented that we fixed this problem, here is the invoice that came with it, here is the problem that was diagnosed and here is how we fixed it. As long as you can have a good record that says it all, an owner is ahead of the game in case something goes wrong later.

Dave Lubach is editor, Facility Market.

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