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How to Create a Safe Workplace

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Safety is front of mind for most business owners and employees. Everyone wants to work in a safe environment where they feel valued and protected. This doesn't just mean adding security lights to dark corners of the property; it also means establishing respectful expectations of all employees and keeping any hazards stored out of harm's way. There are plenty of ways a business owner can make their office a little safer, even if they already have protocols in place. If you know where and what to look for to find unsafe conditions, then installing a remedy for the situation is easy.

Building

Once people make it inside your building, there are new safety hazards that might prevent themselves. For example, some companies work with harmful chemicals or have chemicals available for the janitorial staff. It's important to have a clear procedure for storing these materials so employees cannot come into contact with something potentially hazardous. Most businesses include locked janitor closets to keep access to a minimum, but other places may have different practices. For example, a grocery store is required to use certain chemicals for cleaning and must store them in a safe area, such as the receiving dock. There should be a rack labeled with each type of chemical and a designated area for disposing of empty containers. This helps to keep cross contamination and injuries to a minimum.

 

To go along with the proper storage of chemicals is providing signs to alert employees to potential hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has certain regulations about the messages, colors, and sizes of signs required in certain hazardous areas. You can buy these signs online from various vendors. For example, a hazardous materials sign would be required to hang or place next to your rack full of chemicals. You can even add signs reminding employees of proper protocol for various emergency situations. These can include reminders about where the first aid kits are, how to handle injuries in coworkers, or the steps to using an eye wash station in the event of contact with chemicals. Having these scattered around the office can help employees internalize safety messages and be aware of proper procedures.

 

Finally, the cleanliness of your work place can go a long way in providing safety for employees and customers. Keeping walkways clear, debris off tables, and desks organized can go a long way to preventing accidents. Making sure all walkways inside the building are free of any debris or furniture blocking the path can reduce the number of falls in the workplace. Remember, any injuries on the job will fall under workmen's compensation rules, so keeping areas clear is safe for employees and your business. If there is any type of receiving area at your business, be sure you're stacking materials neatly, ideally along the walls, so there's less chance of something falling over and hurting someone. Any spills in common areas or personal areas should be cleaned up immediately to prevent someone from slipping on them or being exposed to a harmful chemical. To make sure these rules are being enforced, you can perform routine safety checks of common areas of your office or workplace and provide feedback to whoever oversees that space.

 

Parking Lot

Especially if employees are expected to work until after sundown, making the parking lot feel safe and secure is incredibly important. You can do things such as install tower lights or put up a fence depending on how large your facility is. Good lighting can help to decrease crime in your parking lot and make employees feel more confident walking to their car because they can easily survey their surroundings. Another parking lot hazard is slips, trips, and falls. Employees and visitors alike can injure themselves on unfamiliar or surprising terrain when they're in a hurry to get inside, which is why you should make sure your parking lot is free of any hazards such as unnecessary curbs or slippery areas. The best way to avoid this problem is to create obvious walkways for people to use to navigate the parking lot. You can paint crosswalks on the ground where they have to cross a lane of parking so cars know to watch for pedestrians. If your parking lot is large, consider adding a breezeway for people to enjoy as a safe place they can cross the parking lot and walk straight into the building without having to worry about passing cars. Additionally, if you live in an area where freezing is common, be sure to slat the walkways you've created and provide a handrail where ever possible. This can help keep people from slipping and injuring themselves on their way into work.

 

Personnel

There are a lot of things you can do to educate and prepare your personnel to keep the workplace a safe space as well. The first is understanding the risks they assume every day. If you can put yourself in their shoes, it can help you identify areas where safety rules need to be established or modified. You also want to make sure to train your staff on safety protocols and teach them all of the safety rules at your company. These lessons can easily be incorporated into new employee orientation, but there should also be regular safety meetings, whether annually, monthly, or otherwise, to remind current employees of safe practices and why compliance is necessary. In these meetings, you can even reward employees who are doing everything they can to keep their environment safe. You could give a prize to the person who most consistently filled out required logs, or a shout out to someone who went above and beyond to clean a spill or rearrange an area for safety reasons.

 

Beyond environmental hazards, employees can also be in danger if they aren't working with the correct tools for the job. Ensuring proper tools are provided and functioning is another thing you can do to ensure a safe environment. For example, if you run a restaurant, your chefs and kitchen staff need to have a variety of sizes of sharpened knives at all times. If the knife is dull or too big or small for the task, then they risk injuring themselves. You can hire a company to come out to regularly sharpen and replace knives so your staff always has what they need. Another scenario is if your employees are required to work with power tools during the day. If a power saw shorts out and is no longer usable, you can't reasonably expect an employee to do the same job manually. It would pose a hazard because they might pull a muscle or lose a finger without the safety measure a power tool provides. So make sure you replace or repair necessary power tools immediately to keep employees safe.

 

There are plenty of things in any kind of work environment that can pose a threat to employees' and visitors' safety. Ensure your parking lot is well lit and has obvious walkways, your building is clean and chemicals are stored and disposed of properly, and your personnel are trained in workplace safety and have the tools they need to perform their duties.

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