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Best Practices for Workplace Safety

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Workplace DisastersDespite the migration of millions of American employees to home offices, 78 percent of the U.S. workforce still report for duty at a company facility, at least part-time. So, safety in the workplace remains of paramount importance. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2016, which occurred at a rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time workers.

Workplace Injuries

Potential causes of workplace injuries and death range from fatigue (due to inadequate ergonomics or overexertion); substance abuse; slips, trips and falls; to natural and manmade disasters, including workplace violence. If a major emergency occurs or you get hurt on the job, everyone pays the price—in down time, lost productivity, low morale and economic impacts. But when we work together to create a safer place to work, we’re all more productive and satisfied with our jobs and business operations are better prepared to recover. For the purposes of this post, we will focus on workplace safety before, during and after disasters. Workplace Disasters

Workplace Disasters

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates two million people fall victim to workplace violence each year. Employees in retail and healthcare are particularly vulnerable, but it can happen anywhere. Working with your local police department can help you control risk and plan for incidents that might occur. Whatever the cause of the workplace emergency, your attitudes and actions can impact your ability to survive the situation. Whether manmade (terrorist attack or coworker’s violent aggression) or natural (severe weather or earthquake), workplace disasters require specific preparation and reactions.

Safety Training at WorkOfficial Safety Training

One way to make sure you are ready is to complete Community Emergency Response Team training (CERT). The CERT program supports local response capability by training volunteers to spontaneously organize themselves at the disaster site, to provide immediate assistance to victims, and to collect disaster intelligence to support responders’ efforts when they arrive. But CERT is not the only way to prepare yourself for a workplace emergency. Wherever you work, you play a critical role in creating a safe and healthy workplace for everyone by following pre-established emergency procedures and measures.
Workplace Disaster Prep
To help, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has produced a free booklet about citizen preparedness, which may help you if disaster strikes when you are at work. Entitled “Are You Ready?”—the in-depth guide walks readers through steps to take to keep them safe in any hazardous situation. FEMA’s awareness campaign is called: “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”That’s wise advice for employers as well as individuals.Emergency response planning can save lives, reduce the number of injuries, and prevent loss of property.

Slip-and-fall accidentsTo be safe at work, before disaster strikes:

  • Identify potential workplace hazards and safety roles and responsibilities. Know that workplace disasters can strike at any time, with little or no warning.
  • Conduct a job safety analysis to establish proper work procedures to help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Executives and safety officers must keep communication open to make sure workers are comfortable with learning and offer feedback.
  • Maximize personal safety at your regular workspace. Keep area free from clutter.
  • Participate in safety training drills.
  • Report hazards, incidents, and near-misses.
  • Take steps to control flammable and combustible materials in your department and make sure they do not pose a fire or explosion hazard. (For example, large accumulations of waste paper or other combustible materials can pose fire risk.)
  • Ask for help, when needed, to maintain your safety.
  • Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
  • Obey “No Smoking” rules. Careless disposal of cigarettes and matches can lead to fires and explosions.
  • Store and handle hazardous materials properly, according to the instructions on the label and on the safety data sheet.
  • Use and maintain equipment properly.

Workplace DangersDuring & After an Emergency:

  • Stay alert. Just as you drive defensively on the road, use the same caution at work.
  • Know the risks and danger signs.
  • Don’t get into situations you are not trained to handle.
  • Identify at least two ways out of any potentially hazardous situation.
  • Volunteer to help others.
  • Listen to officials for information about evacuation or sheltering in place.
  • Repair damaged property.
  • Take steps to prevent or reduce future loss.

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services System

Online safety trainingNo matter the type of emergency you may face while at work, take steps to make sure you are safe. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning program helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.

High-Rise Safety

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

People who live or work in high-rise residential or commercial buildings face very specific disaster-preparedness challenges. Emergencies such as fires, bomb scares, weather-related incidents and earthquakes present special dangers for high-occupancy buildings, such as dormitories, apartment homes, condominiums and office complexes. The best defense is a coordinated emergency-response plan that identifies potential risks and outlines the best response.With limited access to egress, if you’re in a high-rise when disaster strikes, you might need to stay in the building until the emergency passes. Or, if evacuation is necessary, you would need to quickly find the exit.

The good news is that high-rise building requirements include more working sprinklers and fire alarm equipment than non-high-rise facilities. And if your building owner or manager subscribes to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, first responders will have access to building-specific instructions, which will help in emergency situations. To help make sure you are prepared, we have assembled some tips to keep you safe.High-Rise Evacuation

High-Rise Disaster Safety Tips

In all situations—

  • Take responsibility for your own safety. This is important because, in some situations, first response may be delayed in reaching you.
  • Familiarize yourself with the safety features of your facility (fire alarms, sprinklers, voice communication procedures, evacuation plans and alarm response).
  • Make sure exit and stairwell doors are clearly marked, remain unlocked and are free from debris and clutter which could obstruct the walkway.
  • If an official makes an announcement, listen carefully and follow directions.
  • If you are told to evacuate, go outside and gather at the pre-arranged meeting place.
  • Stay put until an official instructs you it is safe to return to the building.

high-rise fire safetyFor Fire—

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)reports there are approximately 16,000 to 20,000 fires in high-rise buildings each year. This represents 2 to 4 percent of all building fires. If you are in a high-rise when fire breaks out:

  • Well in advance of an emergency, find the locations of all available exit stairs from your floor in case the nearest one is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • Don’t automatically run for the stairs. Stay put and wait for instructions.
  • If it is clear you should evacuate, pull the alarm on your way out, to notify the fire department and your neighbors. Don’t assume someone else will handle this.
  • If the fire alarm sounds, feel the door before opening and close all doors behind you as you leave. If the door is hot, find another way out. If it is cool, leave by the nearest exit.
  • Instead of taking the elevator, use the stairs in a fire, unless the fire department instructs otherwise. Some buildings come equipped with elevators, which are intended for emergency use. Such elevators should be clearly marked.elevator high-rise evacuation
  • If someone is trapped in the building, notify the fire department.
  • If you are unable to evacuate your apartment or high-rise workplace in a fire due to flames, smoke or a disability, stuff wet towels or sheets around the door and vents to keep smoke out. Call the fire department to alert officials to your location.
  • Slightly open a window and wave a bright-colored cloth to signal your location. However, be prepared to close the window if smoke conditions worsen.

To Shelter in Place—

high-rise flood safetyIn some emergency scenarios, you may need to stay put instead of evacuating.

High-Rise Safety Resources:Earthquake high-rise safety

FEMA Building Code Resources

National Fire Protection NFPA High-Rise Building Safety

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Evacuation & Sheltering-in-Place

About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services System

No matter the type of emergency you may face while in a high-rise building, take steps to make sure you are safe. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning program helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.

Autism Awareness Month

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Autism AwarenessA quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awarenessand acceptance and draw attention to the tens of thousands facing diagnosis of the disorder each year. Toward that end, April was declared Autism Awareness Month in 2007. The goal of the annual event (as well as the society), is to encourage acceptance and appreciation for anyone who is diagnosed as autistic.Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a “spectrum” disorder because of the wide variety of type and severity of symptoms patients experience. (more…)

Smartphones in Disasters

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

Smartphones in DisastersThe first cellphone was developed in 1973 by Motorola Researcher Martin Cooper. Heavy and clunky, that first device was a far cry from the sleek, versatile mobile phones of today. Since Cooper’s invention, companies have competed to produce more portable technology and offer better connectivity. And they have largely succeeded. In fact, as a result, worldwide today, 2.53 billion people own smartphones. According to a Pew Research study, 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, with 77 percent of the devices qualifying as “smart.” With smartphone use at an all-time high, it’s time to examine the myriad ways the device can aid disaster preparation, survival and recovery.   (more…)

Campus Security After Parkland & Great Mills Shootings

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Active Shooter SafetyUnfortunately, a pattern has recently unfolded across the country. An active shooter opens fire on students during school, such as what occurred last month in Parkland, Fl., where 17 innocent victims lost their lives and –even more recently – in Maryland, where a 17-year-old student shot two others. This type of event spurs widespread panic and concern about campus safety. Students, parents and political pundits demand gun law reform, teacher armament and mental health awareness. Then, almost as immediately as the frenzy begins, conversations about the court of public opinion abound. But the issue remains. How can we keep American elementary, middle-school, high school and college students safe? (more…)

CERC Training

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

CERC TrainingOne of the most important tools for effective disaster management is communication. With lives at risk, the need to quickly, effectively and accurately communicate is crucial. To train stakeholders and entire communities to make the best possible decisions for their well-being during a crisis or emergency, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) developed Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) in 2002. CERC draws from lessons learned by public health officials, psychologists and emergency risk managers. The CDC’s CERC program provides training sessions, tools and resources to help health communicators, emergency responders and leaders of organizations communicate effectively during emergencies.  (more…)

Flu Impacts American Business

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

InfluenzaWith sudden onset of congestion, body aches, fever and chills, over the past few months, millions of Americans have been battling Influenza, aka the flu. Worse yet, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that, worldwide, somewhere between 300,000 and 646,000 people die each year from seasonal flu-related respiratory illnesses. The threat to the workforce from such a debilitating and contagious illness is notable. In an article in Time Health, Dr. Jonathan D. Quick points to complacency as the reason the bug has reached epidemic proportions: (more…)

IT Disaster Recovery

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

IT Disaster RecoveryIn a recent blog post, we discussed the millions of Americans who are currently struggling to recover after earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, fires, floods, mudslides and myriad other natural disasters that devastated residential and commercial properties across the country. Another category of disaster affecting millions, which also requires careful pre-planning and purposeful recovery, pertains to Information Technology (IT). (more…)

How to Recover from Disasters

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

Disaster RecoveryMillions of Americans struggle to recover after earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, fires, mudslides and myriad other natural disasters that devastated residential and commercial properties across the country. Disasters are currently so widespread, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is spending $200 million per day to aid recovery efforts. Although each type of disaster brings unique challenges, no matter which situation you face, recovery is the first order of business as soon as the dust settles. One such disaster is the Montecito Mudslides, which thousands of volunteers and disaster response teams are currently managing. (more…)

Safety Resolutions for 2018

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

Safety ResolutionsIf you’re like 41 percent of Americans, before the ball drops in New York City to ring in 2018, you will make a few New Year’s resolutions. According to Statistic Brain, although a mere 9.2 percent of people report following through with the resolutions they make, individuals who make them are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who fail to make them at all. So, this year, why not make a New Year’s resolution that could literally save your life? In 2018, resolve to be safe! (more…)