Human-Proof Your Office in Honor of National Safety Month
Talk to any parent with a newly mobile kiddo, and it’s all about the baby-proofing. Staircase gates, toilet lid locks, electrical socket covers—a two-bedroom apartment can start to look more like a small, plastic obstacle course. But all the time, money and reduced feng shui is worth it because keeping Junior healthy and injury-free is top priority.
But then we get to adulthood and all of those precautions seem to go away. No one’s applying rubber bumpers to sharp conference table corners or making sure we hold onto the railing as we descend the stairs. Perhaps, after a few decades of practice, we’ve gotten better at the whole walking thing. But, are we really any less accident prone? With less cartilage and a much higher center of gravity, one could argue that we now have even more to lose in a workplace mishap.
That’s why June, A.K.A National Safety Month, is a great time to human-proof your office. We consulted the National Safety Council for some tips on how you can make your office a safer space for you and all of your colleagues.
Start From the Ground Up
Inspect the floors of your workplace for any broken tiles, ripped carpeting or uneven floorboards. Arrange for any necessary repairs as soon as possible, as even the smallest snags can cause big falls.
Cut the Cord
Well, don’t actually cut any loose cords. Make sure they’re not hanging or lying across high-traffic areas. Use electrical tape to keep them secure and out of the way. Need something a little more robust than electrical tape? Before you bust out the duct tape, see if a floor cord cover would be ideal for your office.
Any liquid spills should be mopped up immediately. But, if you have an area that tends to slippery—entrances on rainy days, bathroom floors, kitchen spaces—make sure you post a clearly visible warning sign and consider adding a (stain-resistant) carpet to the spot.
Do you have a fully stocked first aid kit handy? What about portable fire extinguishers? Make sure that, no matter where you are in your office, you can easily access a visible fire extinguisher.
Make a Plan
Every office should have an emergency action plan, and all employees should receive training on what to do in the case of an emergency. Visit OSHA’s site for guidelines and helpful resources for creating and implementing a plan for your office.
Don’t Forget the Fridge
The office fridge is ripe for jokes and anecdotes (pun intended). But, food safety is a legitimate concern, as mold and bacteria from spoiled food can lead to illness. Try establishing a weekly “fridge purge” during which any food that’s not clearly dated or of the condiment variety is tossed. And, on a monthly basis, do a more in-depth detox. Be ruthless with those questionable bottles of salad dressing!
Climb the Corporate Ladder (Safely)
Your ninja status may have you climbing ladders to change light bulbs, access storage, hang decorations, etc. When using a ladder, always:
- Inspect the ladder to ensure that it’s working properly and in good condition
- Face the ladder while climbing, gripping the rungs, not the side rails
- Keep three points of contact with the ladder (e.g. two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand) at all times
- Use a toolbelt instead of climbing with items in your hands
- Stand no higher than the third rung from the top of the ladder
One more suggestion: don’t do all of this on your own! Try forming a little Office Safety Committee or deputizing a handful of Safety Marshals who can help you bring (and keep) your office up to code. Office safety affects all employees and should be everyone’s concern.
Any other recommendations for improving workplace safety?
Great reminders! This might be a good time to add a reminder that wheeled chairs are not a safe substitute for stepladders. :-)
Too, something more obscure, but becoming of greater importance – fragrances. We had a former co-worker who was allergic to most fragrances; they set off asthma attacks. Now mindful, our office staff avoid fragrances that are worn – and are also careful of the fragrances of chemicals used around the office. Everyone breathes easier!
Good points, Karen. It’s definitely best to only SIT in one’s wheeled chair and go unscented whenever possible!
Start from the Ground Up: I would also like to add don’t let your office clutter flow into the isle ways where someone could trip over them. And don’t pick up anthing that is too heavy for you! Don’t be a Super (unsafe) Ninja…..ask for help! I see way too many admins picking up boxes that are way too heavy for them.
Good points, Mia! Thanks so much for your comment!
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