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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.

Safety at Home and Work

Monday, January 31st, 2011
Work Injury Claim Form

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.