Office work isn't usually associated with dangers Ð after all, what's the worst that can happen to someone working on a computer all day? While office workers don't face the same dangers that
factory and construction workers do, the work environment is still rife with hazards thanks to slippery floors, malfunctioning equipment, and poor lifting techniques.
Besides these issues, there are also security risks. Criminals, customers, and even employees can make an office unsafe. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate these risks and make the workplace a happy place to be.
There are many ways to prevent accidents and injuries and keep your office running smoothly. Here are safety tips that all employers and their employees should be aware of.
Tips for Every Workplace
Take breaks often. Many accidents occur because employees work too long without breaks and get overtired or burned out. If you're an employer, encourage your workers to take a five-minute break every hour or so. Even some simple stretches or a quick walk around the building can refresh a worker's mind.
Be alert to what's going on around you. Know the hazards in your workplace and be sure to steer clear of them. If there is machinery nearby, avoid it. If there are slippery floors, walk around them.
Know where the emergency exits are located. If an emergency ever happens, you'll want to exit the building immediately. Know where the exits are located and always keep them clear so you can easily access them. In an emergency, time is of the essence, so you don't want to have to spend any time clearing debris from walkways.
Don't come to work intoxicated. Drug and alcohol use contributes to 3 percent of workplace fatalities. Intoxication leads to a lack of judgment, concentration, alertness, and coordination. Don't come to work in this condition. You could jeopardize your own life as well as the lives of others.
Get help when lifting heavy objects. Lifting a heavy object can strain your back. Be sure to use proper techniques, like lifting with your legs instead of your back. Instead of carrying the load yourself, ask a co-worker for help. You can also make use of any equipment in the office, such as a wheelbarrow or hand truck.
Reduce stress. Workplaces can be very stressful, especially those that entail long hours, deadlines, and conflicts with customers and co-workers. Too much stress can cause depression and anger issues. Use tricks such as meditation and relaxation to reduce stress. If you're still feeling overwhelmed, your manager may be able to help.
Let your supervisor know of unsafe conditions. If you encounter anything hazardous during the course of your workday, let your supervisor know so it can be dealt with appropriately. Don't assume that he or she already knows about the unsafe conditions. You have the right to work in a safe environment, so don't simply ignore the issue.
Other Tips for the Office
If your office has stairs, pay attention. Use handrails to prevent falls. Always look ahead for potential hazards.
Use caution with office chairs. Office chairs have casters, which means they roll. Use caution and make sure the chair is still under you before you sit down. Also, do not lean back in these types of chairs.
Keep the office clean. Most people in the office are not wearing tennis shoes with sturdy soles. Instead, typical office attire consists of dress shoes and high heels. These shoes are prone to slipping, as it is, which means that any debris on the floors can lead to a slip and fall.
Because of this, itÕs important to clean up spills as soon as they happen. In addition, dirt, paper clips, loose papers, electrical cords and other debris should be removed from the floor. The walking space should be at least 22 inches wide to allow employees to comfortably walk down a hallway or aisle. Keep boxes and personal items out of the walkway.
Be aware of mechanical issues. Equipment issues can still happen in an office environment. If you need to clean or fix the copier, printer or fax machine, be sure to unplug it first to avoid any injuries.
Be prepared. It's inevitable that a workplace accident will happen sooner or later. Even if the injury ends up being minor, it's good to be prepared in case something more serious occurs. Keep first aid kits fully stocked. Enroll employees in CPR training. You should also make sure you have current emergency contact information for all employees so that a family member can be notified if an accident does occur.
Preventing Crime in the Workplace
Many safety issues are caused by outsiders Ð criminals trying to make their way into the office. However, even visitors to the office may create safety concerns. To keep yourself and your assets safe while visitors are present, follow these tips.
Be wary of strangers in the office. Ask if you can help the person and then direct them to the appropriate person. If there are service workers at the office, ask for their identification. If you have suspicions, let your manager know.
Provide an escort for visitors. Visitors should be with an employee at all times. Do not leave a visitor alone for even a minute Ð especially in an empty office.
Refrain from disclosing personal information. Do not give out personal details to visitors. Refrain from discussing details about vacations or social lives. Keep the relationship professional.
Keep personal items locked. Do not keep your wallet, purse, or keys out in the open so that anyone can grab them. Keep them on you in a pocket or locked in a drawer or cabinet.
Here are some other ways to protect your workplace from criminal activity:
Add appropriate lighting. Criminals tend to lurk in the dark, so, by keeping the office well-lit, you can prevent potential criminal activity. Install motion sensor lighting outdoors so you can be alerted to unusual movement. Trim shrubs and trees to remove some of the darkness. It's also a good idea to keep a couple of lights on indoors after closing time.
Secure the reception area. There should be a high-security lock at the front door, as well as security cameras and even a panic button. The receptionist should feel safe, especially if the business is one that gets a lot of foot traffic.
Secure the restrooms. Install a high-security lock on the restroom doors. Limit access by giving keys only to employees. Make sure the restroom is well-lit and near the main office area.
Don't let employees work alone late at night. Employees should let management know how late they intend to work. There should be at least two people working at all times. They should then leave at the same time so they're not alone. In addition, never allow strangers inside the office building after hours.
Use caution when walking to your car. Criminals tend to lurk around parking lots after dark. Use caution when walking and inform the police of any suspicious activity. You should always lock your car doors and keep the windows rolled up. Have your keys ready and do a quick inspection of the inside of your car before getting in. Once inside, lock the car immediately.
Protecting Sensitive Information
Crime does not have to be physical in nature. Sometimes criminals commit crimes without you even knowing. All companies have proprietary information that cannot be shared with others. This inside information can cause a loss of profits and jobs if disclosed to others outside the company. Therefore, it's important to keep this information out of the wrong hands. Here are some ways to do so.
Do not give out information to strangers. Be sure you know who you are communicating with before sending company information via fax, email, or phone.
Do not disclose sensitive information in public. Be careful when discussing company information and details in a restaurant, at a party, or while in any other public place. You never know who might be overhearing you.
Keep confidential information locked up. Do not leave sensitive documents out in the open. Once you are done with this information, lock it away in a filing cabinet. If you no longer need the document, do not simply toss it in the trash. Sensitive information must be shredded.
Protect office access. Keys, badges, and codes should not be shared with others. Take care to protect these lines of access. If you happen to lose a badge or key, let your manager know immediately.
Do not share passwords. Your computer password is for your eyes only. Do not share it with co-workers, managers, or even the IT department. This can lead to a security breach.
Preventing Violence in the Workplace
While outsiders sometimes commit crimes in the workplace, in many cases, the offenders are the employees themselves. Workplace violence does not solely consist of a crazy madman with a gun. Profanity, a raised voice, sexual harassment, and threats can all lead to violence.
Some offices are more prone to violence than others. That's why it's important to be prepared so you're in a better position to protect yourself and your co-workers in the event that the violence escalates quickly. Here are some ways in which workplace violence can be prevented.
Make sure the office has proper security precautions in place. Visitors should be asked to sign in. Panic buttons should be available in the event of an emergency. The office should have access controls and adequate lighting in place. Employees should receive safety training so they know what to do in such a situation.
Employers should carefully research potential hires. Employees should be not be hired without undergoing an extensive background check. Contact previous employers and ask for references. Look for large gaps in employment history. Double-check the person's educational and criminal background.
Keep the workplace upbeat and respectful. Workplaces where everyone is at each other's throats are not good for employee morale. When employees feel stressed and not respected, morale goes down. This eventually leads to anger issues, making an outburst of violence more likely to occur. As an employer, keep an eye out for any situations where employees feel disrespected and work to remedy the situation.
Identify employees who are potentially violent. There are signs that could indicate a violent employee. Keep a close eye on employees who are frequently absent or talk loudly, and who are easily startled, irritable, and impatient. Those who appear to depressed and have memory difficulties should also be deemed at-risk.
Understand the procedures and rules for reporting behavior issues. As an employee, you should know what to do if you come across an employee who is acting strangely. You should not only be encouraged to report this behavior but also know to whom you should report. Do not simply ignore any erratic behavior. By making it known, you are protecting the workplace from violence.
There are many ways to keep the workplace secure. Besides security cameras Ð the most obvious choice Ð there are also services available, such as access control, intrusion control, fire control, and wireless security. Security options can be customized to fit an office's needs.
Safety should be a concern in any environment. Since you spend eight hours or more in the workplace every day, you should do your part to keep yourself and your co-workers safe. Follow the tips above, and you'll be more at ease in the workplace, which also means you'll be happier and more productive.
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