As a small business owner and employer, you have a responsibility to your employees to ensure their health and safety in the workplace. Whether your employment involves operating heavy machinery or typing away at a computer all day, there are always risks. Here at HIG, we want to protect your business and it’s employees, which is why we’re offering tips to maintain a safe and healthy work environment.
Preventing Slips & Falls
Falls are one of the most common sources of injury in the office, but in many cases, they can also easily be prevented. Instill these safety practices at your business to keep employees, clients, and suppliers safe.
- Be Mindful of the Weather — Tile or marble floors can become slippery, especially when wet. In entrance ways, put down non-slip carpets to keep people from tracking rain and snow inside. If the floor does become wet, it is important to place “wet floor” or “caution” signs in the area, to make sure individuals are are aware and careful.
- Secure Carpets and Rugs — If you have carpeting that is pulling up at the edges, this can also create a trip risk. Make sure any rugs or carpeting are secure and in good condition.
- Clear Walkways — Clutter also creates an injury risk in the workplace. Make sure walkways are clear of boxes and other personal items such as purses or briefcases. If you have furniture blocking heavily trafficked areas, you should also consider repositioning it to ensure that all walkways are unimpeded. It’s important to note that cords can create not only an increased risk for trips, but also an electrical hazard. Make sure all cords are properly secured and covered to minimize this risk.
- Use Ladders Properly — Should you need to reach something at a higher level, the last thing you want to do is stand on top of a chair, especially one that rolls. When using a ladder, it should be opened fully, and placed on level ground. It is also advised that you should never step higher than indicated on the safety label of the ladder.
It’s easy to get sucked into your work and forget to take a break. But breaks are not only important for your productivity, they’re also vital to your health.
- Stay Hydrated and Eat Lunch — Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. The CDC recommends drinking “eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day.” Just as important as staying hydrated is making sure your body is getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs. Not only should you take your lunch break, you should also try to eat food that fuels your brain and helps you be more productive.
- Periodically Move Around — If you’re job involves a lot of sitting, it’s important to take time to step away from your desk and stretch. Try to get up at least once an hour — taking a walk down the hall or getting up to refill a water bottle are both great ways to accomplish this. You can also take a few minutes during your lunch break to take a quick walk outside.
- Sit Up Straight — This might just sound like advice from your mother when you were a child, but maintaining good posture when sitting at a desk can help prevent injury. By sitting up straight and placing your feet flat on the floor, you are less likely to strain your back or neck.
- Adjust Your Workspace — Try to make your workspace as ergonomic as possible. Your keyboard and mouse should be placed directly next to each other to prevent you from straining your neck in any way. Adjust your office chair to make sure you are supported and in a comfortable position. You can also consider options like standing desks or balance balls in place of more traditional office chairs.
- Rest Your Eyes — If you must sit at your computer for a continuous two hours, the American Optometric Association recommends that you rest your eyes for 15 minutes. Ideally, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, you should rest your eyes by looking into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes to refocus.
Prepare for Emergencies
Accidents happen but being prepared is the key to ensuring everyone’s safety.
- Create a Safety Protocol — Safety protocols can include a wide range of information depending on the work environment, such as how to safely use cleaning products, lift heavy items, operate machinery, or what to do in case of a fire. Safety plans should also include evacuation routes and information on where emergency equipment such as a fire extinguisher, first aid kits or defibrillators are located.
- Train Employees — All employees should be trained on these safety protocols and how to respond in each scenario. Employees should not only be trained on safety protocols when they are first hired, it’s important to maintain open lines of communication about safety procedures so everyone stays informed.
- Practice Regular Drills — For emergency situations, preparedness makes all the difference. Make sure your employees know where to go and what to do by regularly practicing.
- Know Your Employees — You should maintain records of each employee’s allergies or other pertinent health conditions in case of an emergency. This information can help you inform medical personnel and respond accordingly. For example, if you have an employee with a severe allergy, make sure to have an epipen on hand along with someone who is trained in how to use it.
Safety should always be a top priority in any work environment. In the event that an incident does occur, being prepared makes all the difference. In addition to following these safety tips, the right insurance coverage can make sure your business and it’s employees are protected. Here at HIG, we have the experience and expertise to tailor a business owner’s policy to your specific needs. If you have questions about safety in the workplace or a business owner’s policy, an HIG insurance agent would be happy to help. Feel free to give us a call at (508) 676-5949 or visit our website.