During your time in corporate America, you’re likely to come across offices, shops, warehouses, factories or other workplaces that increase your risk of injury or death. If you want a safer workplace and don’t want to sound like a shirker or complainer, you can offer to serve on or lead a safety committee, helping to improve your personal situation and increase your professional status with your employer. You don’t need to be an expert to examine and address common workplace safety issues using a variety of government resources.
Safety in the workplace doesn’t only apply to employees. It includes customers, clients, vendors, suppliers, delivery people, contractors and visiting family members and friends. Examining your workplace from the perspective of everyone who visits your company can help create a list of safety factors to address.
Slip and Fall
Premises liability attorneys address so many instances of workplace injuries related to falls, they call these “slip and fall” cases. Injuries result from electrical cords laid across floors, loose tiles, slick wood, torn carpet, two different flooring surfaces meeting without a smooth connection, loose hand rails, icy sidewalks, poorly lit stairwells and wet surfaces. Walk your workplace and examine the potential areas that can cause a trip or stumble.
Fire and Electrical
Arrange for a free visit from your local fire marshal to learn how to reduce and react to fire hazards. You’ll get advice on how to dispose of refuse, use fire extinguishers, install smoke alarms and emergency lighting, determine the best exits during a fire, prevent electrical overloads, and train employees about fire safety. You’ll even get advice on responding to life-threatening injuries, using CPR, a defibrillator and other first aid techniques.
Make sure every employee knows how to escape your office and building in the event of a fire, tornado, earthquake, intruder or other emergency. Hold drills with the lights on and off to practice emergency conditions. Consider rope ladders to help employees leave windows, if necessary, and check all windows to learn which ones open easily and which shouldn’t be tried during an emergency.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to safety. Keep co-workers safe with proper lighting in hallways, stairwells and parking lots. Create a buddy system for employees who work late at night and need to get to their cars after hours. Create policies and procedures for letting people enter your building and consider electronic doors and security badges for employees. Look into the costs of security cameras -- even inexpensive dummy cameras placed in plain site can deter potential intruders.
Whether it’s stacking boxes of office supplies too high or storing hazardous materials, the way you arrange items at your workplace can create safety issues. You might create blind spots, risk heavy items falling on people or allow dangerous items to become forgotten for months or years if you don’t have some type of system for checking on inventory and supplies.
To make yourself the company expert on safety, visit the websites of credible health and health and safety organizations and agencies. Include the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, your state’s workers’ compensation commission, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and any industry specific trade association that provides information in your field. Talk to your company’s property and casualty insurer for free advice on making your workplace safer.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.