Safety in the Workplace: Everybody's Concern
Safety in the office can often be overlooked, but it is a serious issue requiring serious attention. Accidents and injuries can occur at any place and at any time, and limiting their likelihood is good for your business and great for your employees. This article highlights ways in which you can ensure your safety planning is comprehensive.
While safety is a high priority in manufacturing and industrial companies, office safety is also a serious issue needing a similar level of attention. Accidents and injuries can occur everywhere and the resulting pain and trauma they cause are the same, whether in a factory or an office. Adequate safety planning needs every employer’s attention.
Safety planning begins with a careful survey of the conditions of your workspace. Examine areas for potential problems with a critical eye. Hazards are not always obvious. How are desks spaced? What kind of carpet do you have? Where are electrical outlets located in the office as well as the toilet? Is the coffee area clean and uncluttered? Is the surface in parking areas, curbs and pavements in good repair? Look at any areas that employees use. Sometimes this takes an office outsider to look at areas that you may take for granted as safe. Ask a friend from a neighbouring office to join you in your search for potential hazards.
Obvious things include loose cords and connectors that may impede walkways. Your local office supply store stocks ties and covers for electrical cords and are a great asset in preventing falls and also protecting equipment from damage. Keeping these hazards against walls and out of the path of traffic is the first step to a safe office.
Repair or Replace
Examine desks and tables for damaged edges, loose drawers and legs and cracks in work surfaces. Chair arms, legs and castors are another potential problem area. These items take a lot of abuse and should be repaired or replaced when corner surfaces become jagged or cracked. If appearance is not a huge priority, duct tape can smooth these edges and protect employees from cuts and scrapes. Chairs should roll easily and carpet protectors should be smooth and free of cracks. Check for loose arms and castors. These repairs can be done easily with help from your local hardware store.
Frequently, some of the biggest danger areas are toilets and coffee areas. Check the location of electrical outlets and their proximity to sinks and appliances. Refrigerator cords and coils should be cleaned and its contents must be monitored closely. Spoiled food and drinks should be purged and the interior cleaned regularly. Counters should be uncluttered by dishes, cups and food items. This will require help from your employees but when presented with the safety concerns involved and their importance, obtaining their cooperation should be easier.
Don’t forget the exterior of your location as an area of potential accidents. Repairs should be made to uneven and cracked pavement and good lighting of parking areas is essential. If you are located in an office complex, bring these safety areas to the attention of your maintenance department. If you are in a private location, these repairs can be made at little cost. Pavement sealer is available at DIY and hardware stores. You can even make the repair session an office project with perhaps a picnic or outing following a “fix up” party.
Avoiding Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Office lighting fixtures must provide adequate light for the work surroundings. Make sure florescent light bulbs are changed regularly and disposed of properly. Desk lamps should have bulbs approved for their use and, again, disposed of in sturdy bins, not office rubbish bags Speaking of rubbish, it should be taken out regularly and separated correctly if you recycle. These are not just sanitary issues, but safety issues as well. Overflowing rubbish bags are slip-and-fall accidents waiting to happen.
Every office structure is required to have fire extinguishers and yours should be placed correctly and properly maintained. Be sure to instruct employees in their use and document scheduled maintenance. Violations of fire safety procedure can bring hefty fines. Make fire safety a priority in smoking areas as well.
Safety: Saving You Money
Office and equipment repairs can be made at a reasonable cost and in the long run will save you money. Accidents that require medical attention and time lost from work are costly propositions that cost the nation’s employers millions of dollars every year. Your small office may seem comfortable and secure, but a critical examination and timely follow up can avert dramatic problems. Draw on the expertise of your local DIY and office supply professionals to aid in your repair needs.
Many insurers will take safety inspections and precautions into account when issuing renewals and setting rates. Be sure to keep receipts from repair projects and safety equipment. Good safety planning is a win-win situation. Make safety a visible priority in your office setting.
Melissa Vokoun is a successful business advisor and trainer. She is the founder and president of NuVo Partners and Successful Business Advisors. To learn more about the services available, please visit the website at www.nuvo-partners.com.