Employees are the most important asset of any company. Therefore, it is the responsibility of business owners and employers to safeguard their employees in the workplace. Workplace safety isn’t just about protecting employees in emergencies such as natural disasters or violence-related incidents. Instead, employers should strive to create a workplace that ensures the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees.
Here are a few effective workplace safety tips for employers and business owners:
1. Declutter Your Office
Many seemingly harmless things can pose a serious threat of injury. For instance, an employee could trip over a random box lying on the floor and suffer a fractured arm. Likewise, someone can get hurt if a pile of heavy files falls on them. An employee could even injure themselves if they step on a metal pin that has fallen from one of your pin boards.
Thus, the first step of ensuring workplace safety is to keep your workplace organized. Make sure everything is neatly stored or stacked away. Additionally, you should get your office regularly cleaned and mopped, so no foreign objects are lying on the floor.
2. Make Emergency Exits Accessible
One of the biggest mistakes made by many organizations is the practice of placing heavy objects near emergency exits. It might be a big table that prevents a door from opening completely. It could also be a cupboard that blocks the exit from plain sight. All your fire drills and training will be of no use if your employees can’t quickly access the emergency exits when a disaster strikes.
Therefore, it is extremely crucial to maintain easy access to all the fire exits and staircases in your office building. Don’t store anything near these exits that would disrupt the free passage. Additionally, you should ensure that your employees are aware of these exits. This will help them locate the nearest way out in the event of an emergency.
3. Use Safe Storage Equipment
How many times have you felt that the office cupboard you use is getting overloaded and could come crashing down at any moment? Have you noticed any open drawers in your office that could fall off at any time? If such an incident occurs, it can cause serious harm to your employees.
Maybe it is time to upgrade your storage equipment and get new cabinets and drawers. It is also essential to ensure that all these equipment are tightly locked when not in use. Apart from preventing any serious accidents, it will also help keep your workplace neat and organized.
4. Check Cords & Connections
Do you have naked wires and cords lying on your office floor? Are there any malfunctioning outlets near your employees’ workstations? It is crucial for employers and business owners to regularly check their office premises for faulty wiring and electrical connections. Make sure all the sockets are secure and safe to use.
Moreover, all live wires and cords lying on the floor should be tucked into the corners or covered with carpets. Apart from protecting your employees from electrical shocks, this will also prevent them from tripping and injuring themselves.
5. Provide Ergonomic Furniture
Many of your employees might be involved in sedentary work that requires them to sit on uncomfortable chairs for long hours. Moreover, they may have to bend their necks staring at computer screens for a long duration. Such practices can lead to the development of musculoskeletal disorders, including arthritis, tendonitis, and sprains.
If you want to avoid this, the first step is to provide your employees with adjustable chairs. This will help them change the height of their chair so that the computer screen is at their eye level. Additionally, you should provide them with tables that have a separate flexible attachment for the keyboard and mouse.
Simply providing high-end furniture isn’t enough. You should educate your employees about the benefits and why they should use it. Moreover, you should train them to use such furniture properly. These minor initiatives will ensure that your employees maintain the correct posture at work and aren’t at the risk of developing any chronic ailments.
6. Encourage Employees to Relax
Working for long hours at a stretch can strain your muscles as well as your eyes. Therefore, you should encourage your employees to take regular breaks. You can also invite professionals to teach simple and effective exercises to help your employees relax. Apart from ensuring your employees’ physical and mental wellbeing, it can also boost productivity.
7. Train Employees to Use Office Equipment
Depending on the nature of your business, your employees may have to operate heavy machinery or electronic appliances. Even a small IT firm requires its employees to use photocopiers and scanners. It is essential to provide new employees with adequate training before they are allowed to use any such device or machine. In addition to ensuring workplace safety, it also prevents expensive equipment from getting damaged.
8. Outline an Emergency Plan
One of the biggest threats to workplace safety is an emergency such as a natural calamity or a man-made disaster. It could be an impending hurricane or fire in the office building. The only way to safeguard your employees in such hostile situations is to develop an actionable emergency plan.
The plan should clearly outline an evacuation strategy and delegate key responsibilities to various teams. Make sure the plan is communicated to every member of your workforce. It is also recommended that you print physical copies of the emergency plan and display it at various key locations in your office. This can come in handy when there is a power outage, or the internet connection is disrupted.
9. Develop a Flawless Communication System
One of the key aspects of an evacuation strategy is to ensure uninterrupted communication in the event of a disaster. The absence of proper communication can cause your employees to panic and lead to further chaos. Moreover, you can’t depend on regular modes of communication because they might be disrupted when there is a power cut.
Therefore, it is essential to develop a communication strategy that doesn’t just rely on the internet. For instance, you can use an emergency notification system like RedFlag to send regular updates about an ongoing evacuation. Transparent communication can go a long way to make your employees feel safe in the event of a workplace disaster.
10. Organize Mock Drills
Even the best emergency evacuation plan will be of no use if your employees can’t act on it when faced with a crisis. The only way to ensure this is to regularly conduct mock drills and provide practical training to your workforce. Additionally, you can organize walkthroughs to familiarize new employees with the layout and construction of their workplace. This, in turn, can help them identify the nearest exits and safest evacuation paths to save themselves during an emergency.
11. Talk to Your Employees
One of the simplest ways of making your employees feel safe is to interact with them freely. Make it a practice to invite them to talk to you and express their concerns. Ask whether they feel threatened by a particular colleague or are getting stressed due to the long work hours. If an employee has been acting out of character recently, try to identify the possible reasons by talking with them.
It will help you identify any hidden dangers and tackle them before they escalate and take the shape of a major incident. It is also essential to keep a close eye on your employees and identify any signs of physical or psychological disorders. If you think an employee is showing signs of an ailment, encourage them to seek proper treatment.
12. Encourage Reporting
Another critical step is to encourage your employees to report any threats or incidents of workplace violence. Make sure such employees aren’t ostracized or discriminated against. It is equally crucial to investigate such reports and take corrective measures to make the victims feel safe.
Maintaining workplace safety is one of the major concerns for most employers and business owners. A few simple steps can go a long way to make your employees feel safe and encourage them to be more productive at work. For instance, just keeping your office premises organized can help prevent accidents. Likewise, talking to your employees will encourage them to speak out against any violence they may have faced.
Moreover, it is essential to arm your workforce with an actionable evacuation strategy and an effective communication system. Organize period drills and walkthroughs to ensure that your employees receive adequate hands-on practice. It will help them keep their cool and execute the plan when faced with a crisis.
Do you want to share any more workplace safety tips for employers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.