As business leaders, we know that health and safety in the firm are essential. There’s a standard you need to hold yourself to in order to confirm everything is above board. But it might be that only meeting the minimal standards can still leave your staff in harm. Safety is one of those hidden factors in our life that helps us all the time, yet one bad mistake can often allow this invisible veneer to be temporarily lifted. Let’s say there’s a trip hazard on the staircase. Perhaps a staff member isn’t being quite as attentive as they usually are, and they fall, suffering an injury. Everyone understands that’s a terrible outcome. And it could have been resolved if that minimal decision to leave a box in the wrong place was corrected as soon as it came to mind.
And yet it might be the case that even small problems are unacceptable to you. Most worthwhile business leaders will aim to routinely achieve zero injuries a year on their premises. Anything more suggests something went wrong.
Let us consider how you can limit injuries in the office, and how realistic that ‘zero’ figure is to attain:
The best way to think about implementing safety in your workplace is to consider it from the moment an employee, or anyone for that matter, enters your property. If you do this, you can reliably avoid the issues that might take place in an area you hadn’t considered. It could be that there’s a gap in the fence, and any trespassers who decides to climb under could claim against you should it injure them. It sounds unfair, but that can be how the law might work, provided you haven’t the correct signage placed at the perimeter.
It could also be that while your office is safe, there’s a known pothole in the parking area that could cause property damage should it be left unattended. It could be that perhaps the painted crossing in your parking space is starting to fade, meaning that a vehicle might not realise the necessity to stop. A good safety practitioner views the entirety of the area and attempts to overcome the issues that could easily be glossed over.
The same goes for height as well as property width. Might it be that there’s a dangling hazard above your head, such as an unsecure floodlight, or perhaps a lamppost that was accidentally reversed into by a delivery truck? It could be that resolving this can prevent an issue occurring through terrible luck. With this advice, we quite naturally come to:
It’s essential to consider just how your parking space is set up, that’s obvious. But what about the road safety standards on your property? It’s often the case that you’ll need to accept large deliveries from time to time, particularly if you’re a manufacturing outfit, or perhaps if you go through many office materials. Do you have a loading bay, no matter how small or humble? Do you have a clear route with which drivers and visitors can head to your property and park safely? Do you have painted arrows on your property allowing drivers to see which route to take, and where to give the right of way? Little implements like this can often prevent small traffic issues, or potentially give pedestrians and people visiting your offices more safety when walking to and from their vehicles.
All parking spaces, driveways, means of access and signage will be different from office to office. It might be you simply have a small area around the back of your building for your cars, or perhaps you have no parking environment at all. But one thing is for sure, if you have even an inch of exterior space, you need to be careful with its maintenance.
You’d likely be surprised if you had the possibility of enacting the following social experiment. Imagine that you’re trying to check just how many offices and places of work you could access without being questioned. Keep your head up, and simply walk into a private area. Of course, this is not something to advise, so we’ll keep this as a thought experiment. You would likely be stunned by how easy it would be to gain access to private halls, to office spaces, to head past the reception, to come in contact with important utilities and assets. Simply look like you belong, and you’d be surprised just how little you’d be questioned about it. This is the whole real story of Frank Abagnale Jr, as popularized by Leonardo Di Caprio in Catch Me If You Can. While security norms have increased since then, you’d still be stunned at just how many offices fail to implement important verification procedures.
You have a duty to your staff and those who enter your building to ensure they are cared for, and that means knowing who everyone is in the office. This means considering who gains access. A front reception desk with a need to sign in and out can help your receptionists easily report someone who subverts that process. Keycard access and temporary keycard use can help both verified staff and guests make it through otherwise locked doors. Of course, in the event of a fire, disabling all of these locks immediately is essential, so be sure to go for a security system that offers this. Ensuring that other entrances such as fire exists are not left open all day, and that you encourage staff to report those they do not recognise, those who aren’t sporting an important name badge.
A little verification can go a long way, because you never know what the intent of someone is as they enter your building. With a few of these applied measures, you should prevent everyone without qualified access from entering your office.
Sometimes, no matter how well prepared and careful you are with your office design and organization, it might be that a small issue slips through the cracks, and now the preventative measures no longer work, and you must focus on applying a solution. Having an immediate system set up for the contacting of a local ambulance can be a great idea. Ensuring that you have an indexed inventory of your staff’s medical needs and the things they must not be exposed to is essential.
But let’s say something happens out of pure accident. Perhaps someone comes into contact with a foodstuff they shouldn’t have been exposed to. Perhaps someone trips over a laptop charger and injures themselves. It can be important to enact a supportive solution to ensure that an injury does not turn into something more serious before professional help can arrive. This is where training your staff in a CPR certification online could not only help someone recover, but potentially save their life. We can’t think of a means in which you could limit an injury more successfully than this.
But of course, after training your staff, it’s important to apply levels of prioritization. This is because if someone falls down in injury, having fifteen people around trying to impart a solution could be the full embodiment of the ‘too many cooks’ syndrome. It can be a real problem.
If you’ve ever conducted a beginner-level hazard awareness and safety course, or if you’ve ever worked with any business health and safety practitioner, you will have likely had to complete a spot-the-difference ‘this-or-this’ comparison between two pictures. It might be an office, or a kitchen. One is clear from hazards, the other picture is filled with them. It’s your job to label where the hazards are. Pretty simple, right?
But past completing that exercise, we can often forget to implement that kind of assessment in our own offices unless something is glaringly obvious and unsafe. This can be the start of a real issue when you think about it. After all, there’s a reason why this is the first thing you are taught on any and all safety courses. So why not bring that philosophy and conduct random hazard assessments yourself?
Walking through the office you may notice many things. It might be that someone has an open receptacle of water on their desk, a meter above where the electrical plug sockets are located. Perhaps someone is walking through the office with a hot microwaved meal in one hand and a phone in the other. Perhaps the kitchen sink had a sharp knife hidden in soapy, still water. All of these issues are things that could cause injury, and must be improved through employee training and discipline where appropriate. It could also be that you wish to better yourself as a leader through identifying those issues. Perhaps one third of your office staff are slouching in their office chairs because they are somewhat old now, and do not support them ergonomically as they should. This can lead to long-term back issues, and so this might be where a future injury could be prevented.
With these tips, you’re sure to limit injuries in the workplace, just as much as you can.