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Safety at Home and Work

Monday, January 31st, 2011
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Take steps to keep everyone safe at work and at home.

Staying safe from hazards at the workplace and at home can only be accomplished with thorough training about potential threats and associated courses of action.

In the workplace, the prevention of various safety hazards translates directly and indirectly to reduced costs. Workplace accidents and related worker’s compensation claims result in billions of dollars in lost productivity. Accidents result in the loss of valuable time spent pouring over insurance claims and jumping through hoops in order to meet OSHA reporting requirements.

Some considerations for optimal office safety that you may not be aware of include:

  • Avoid overcrowding your employees – give them at a minimum 50 square feet of their own space. This will help them avoid collisions and has the added benefit of keeping germs at bay.
  • Encourage clean workspaces. Papers or files on the floor are hazards. Tangles of wires can cause serious falls and pose electrical fire hazards.
  • Employees who need to use ladders or step stools should be trained on proper procedures for operating equipment.

Accidents in the workplace are often related to improper storage:

  • Don’t store boxes on top of filing cabinets or other unsecured high places.
  • Flammable or combustible materials should be stored separately from ignition sources.
  • Clear hallways are vital for evacuations. Ensure that your building’s tenants follow proper egress codes.

Not all workplace hazards are visible. Stress is an important issue that contributes to accidents and injury. While employers often view the effects of stress in terms of lost productivity, it is important to note that a stressful work environment can also hinder sound decision-making in cases of emergency.

At home, many of the same rules apply for ensuring maximum safety. Resources such as the Home Safety Council provide helpful tips.

Fire safety in the home:

  • Kitchen safety includes using oven mitts and never leaving hot surfaces unattended.
  • Gas grills should only be used outdoors and kept away from shrubs and areas of dried leaves.
  • Space heaters should only be used on flat surfaces far away from any ignition source. If available, consider installing central heat, which is considerably safer and more fuel efficient.

Help prevent accidents involving small children:

  • Baby gates installed at the top and bottom of stairs and basement access points can prevent falls. Teach little ones to go downstairs backwards until they are able to walk and can hold onto the railing.
  • Secure balconies with Plexiglas coverings if there are large gaps between posts.
  • Window screens won’t prevent a 40-pound toddler from falling. Quick-release window guards, on the other hand, can prevent such accidents and can be easily removed in case of fire.

Poisoning prevention:

  • According to the CDC, poisoning caused more than 700,000 ER visits in 2009.
  • Secure all items in the home, not just those under the kitchen sink. Usage of tamper resistant caps can prevent inquisitive children from playing with chemicals.
  • All prescriptions and other medicines should be secured in medicine cabinets

Overall safety in the workplace and home is a vast topic. Developing a broad knowledge base in multiple areas will minimize risks and make accident prevention a state of mind.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Fire Hazards in Office Buildings

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Only You Can Prevent Office Fires

Only You Can Prevent Office Fires

According to data from the National Fire Protection Agency, there were 112,000 non-residential structure fires in 2008 which resulted in 120 deaths and $3.8 billion in property damages.  High-rise buildings are especially at risk as fires can spread rapidly and higher floors are often out of reach of most firefighting aerial equipment.

Building owners should work closely with tenants and discuss potential fire hazards to prevent loss of property or life. Tenants should understand the potential losses of sensitive data or documents that can be destroyed so they should be more apt to listen.

Reducing the incidence of fire in buildings can be accomplished by identifying contributing factors and minimizing risks. Come to think of it, that’s the way to handle any type of risk!

Space heaters:

  • Often kept in enclosed spaces near papers, space heaters can lead to fast-moving fires
  • Space heaters use a high amount of electricity and multiple users can increase utility bills
  • Older space heaters don’t have auto shutoff safety can start fires if tipped over

Office Equipment and Appliances:

  • Coffee makers, copiers and computers all need space around them for air circulation
  • Papers should not be stacked on or around equipment
  • Restrict use of hotplates and other portable heating items

Wiring and Power:

  • Older wiring that is mixed with newer wiring can lead to sparking which can turn into fire
  • Buildings that do not keep current with electrical code standards are at risk
  • Overuse of extension cords and power strips has greatly expanded as offices have more and more electronic devices. Overloaded circuits or power cords routed under combustible carpets can both be fire risks

Combustible materials:

  • Modern offices typically have many combustible materials such as file folders, wooden partitions, upholstered furniture, carpeted floors, and wooden doors
  • Combustibles can be decreased by choosing metal furniture, installing fire-rated doors, and moving towards paperless record keeping

Smoking:

Don’t forget about cigarettes and cigars! A leading cause of fires is recreational smoking. Even when buildings restrict smoking inside buildings, some tenants may fail to comply. The best way to combat this is to enforce strict no-smoking policies and provide safe alternative outdoor smoking areas. Outside ash containers should be heavy so they don’t tip over. And care should be taken to ensure safe disposal of ash and cigarette butts.

Fire risks can be greatly decreased by establishing and enforcing set policies for all of your tenants. The Allied Universal Training System can help you mitigate these and other safety risks. Visit www.rjwestmore.com and ask us about the recently released Version 2.0 of our award-winning training program. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training!

Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!