How to keep your work environment safe
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
How often do you ask yourself, "Is my office as safe as it can be for my staff and clients?" It's probably not something you even think of on a daily basis. However, it's very important not to overlook important, but little-known risks.
These easy, research-driven common-sense tips will nip many problems in the bud, keep you informed in case of emergencies, and create a much less hazardous daily environment.
Cut your staff's high-rise heart attack risk.
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal finds that people on the first three floors of a high-rise building had the best outcomes in the event of a cardiac emergency. Survival rates, sadly, went down the higher the floor — study subjects over the sixteenth floor only registered a 0.9 percent survival rate, and there were no surviving study subjects living on the 25th floor or higher.
The news is not all bad, though — researchers found that there is plenty high-rise workers can do to increase their medical safety.
Proactive advice ranges from keeping a defibrillator easily available in individual offices or shared on a floor to learning CPR with your employees as a group activity. You can also ask your building manager to institute an emergency alert system, help speed up the arrival of medical help or petition your building for a priority system regarding clearing an elevator during an emergency.
Brush up on fire safety.
The National Fire Protection Safety Association reports that there are very specific steps you should when it comes to surviving a fire emergency in a tall building, too.
For instance, make sure your building has sprinklers — if it doesn't, request them from management. Also, ask your building management to learn about safety equipment such as alarms, voice communication procedures, and evacuation plans.
Your staff should know the locations of all available exit stairs from your floor, making sure all exit and stairwell doors are clearly marked, and not locked or blocked. Also, use stairs to escape, not the elevator, unless told to do so by the fire department.
More practical points: as many fires begin due to electrical issues, regularly inspect your office's equipment wiring visually — replace anything that looks frayed immediately. Never overload power strips, or outlets that power multiple appliances or computers, either.
Call in an electrician at least once a year to inspect wall wiring. This will prevent hidden fire dangers. Finally, run a good old-fashioned fire drill periodically, within your office and as part of the protocol for your entire building, so everyone knows the correct exits to use if they need to.
Offer support to ailing employees.
A study by the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus found that female workers suffering from depression and fatigue are more likely to get hurt on the job.
Workplace wellness programs can help identify and get treatment for employees at risk, too. This means you should keep an open-door policy, so employees dealing with physical and emotional health problems can come to you to access these services if they need them.
Clear the air.
Poor air quality is too common of a problem in many indoor and outdoor workspaces.
Tips to improve it include having your HVAC system cleaned regularly; removing old, dusty carpeting; stringently following environmental safety standards when it comes to removing fumes from your premises; and airing out workspaces where chemicals are used on an ongoing basis throughout the workday, and after your workers go home.
Listen to your workers' feedback.
Employees who bring hazards to your attention should never hesitate to speak up, according to research from the Association for Psychological Science/Virginia Tech. In the unfortunate event of an accident on your premises, it's key that you gather accurate information about what occurred from the injured worker or workers, and any witnesses on scene.
Also, taking the time to check in on a regular basis to ask if workers notice any potentially dangerous conditions or equipment is a great idea. Let your workers know that they are the eyes and ears of your company when it comes to on-site safety — any warnings or suggestions they bring to you will always be taken seriously, and greatly appreciated.
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