3 Tips for Keeping a ‘Safe’ Office Environment
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June is National Safety Month, and many businesses are using the occasion as a nudge to assess their systems and best practices for keeping employees and customers safe.
The annual observance was launched more than 25 years ago by the National Safety Council to shine a spotlight on the importance of preventing injuries and death in the workplace, at home, and in the community.
Workplace injuries occur for many reasons, including avoidable situations, such as a fall caused by something blocking a pathway. “Research shows that over 99 percent of all accidents are preventable,” according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
Here are 3 ideas for making your small business a safe place to work (and visit).
Review and Update
Examine your safety procedures and protocols for outdated information or approaches.
Look for any changes at your business, such as new types of products, operations or a change in environment, that would warrant changes to policies and materials related to safety. This might include updating any safety-related labels and signage.
It’s also crucial to keep employees informed of any safety standards and protocol changes made after their initial training and to always review procedures with new staff.
“Employees that are properly trained work safer and smarter, therefore making their workplace safer,” the NSC says.
This is particularly true for employees in high-risk areas and any staff whose jobs put them in -- and responsible for -- public areas, such as where customers shop or travel.
Keeping physical spaces clean is a key factor in protecting against workplace illnesses and preventing injuries.
“A clean business reduces the risk of injury for all who walk through the door,” says the National Safety Council. “Cluttered spaces increase the risk of trips and falls, which are some of the most common workplace injuries.”
Don’t skip drills
You likely have a preparedness plan outlining what to do in the case of a fire or other high-injury risk events or disasters common to your geographical area, type of business, or industry, whether natural or human-made.
Emergency drills, or mock walk-throughs, are important to these plans, whether aimed at safety steps during a fire, hurricane, blizzard, tornado, power outage, etc.
It’s imperative to keep these regularly scheduled drills on your calendar and require participation. Failing to do so threatens the safety of your employees -- and customers -- in the event of a real threat to safety because practice instills preparedness for a crisis situation.
Do communication and system check-ups
The systems and alerts you’re counting on, including technology-supporting communications, should be checked regularly for functionality and performance.
Whether running alarms, flood detectors, security systems, or communications, you’ll need reliable connectivity on equipment and devices to help keep employees safe.
Ensure your business has enough internet speed and bandwidth to support your safety protocols and standards effectively.
What OSHA Recommends
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, advises businesses to take a proactive approach to safety and health in the workplace.
“The main goal of safety and health programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, as well as the suffering and financial hardship these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers,” the agency says on its website.
OSHA recommends small and medium businesses build a safety and health program around seven core elements: management leadership; worker participation; hazard identification and assessment; hazard prevention and control; education and training; program evaluation and improvement; and communication and coordination for host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies.
“The idea is to begin with a basic program and simple goals and grow from there. If you focus on achieving goals, monitoring performance, and evaluating outcomes, your workplace can progress to higher levels of safety and health achievement,” adds OSHA.