The safety and health of a workplace has a major effect on employee morale and productivity, and as the leader of your business or office, the responsibility of ensuring the health and safety of your employees falls on your shoulders. Especially now, during a pandemic, there is increased focus on healthy workplace initiatives. Fortunately, there are many ways to approach creating and improving a healthy work environment.
A healthy workplace can include several aspects of the environment, from physical to mental wellbeing. We will be focusing on the physical workplace environment and the occupational health and safety of your employees.
Work-related injury and illness can be costly, so remove yourself from liability and protect your employees from the start by investing in these simple yet effective ways to create a safe and healthy work environment:
1. Safe-Proof the Building
To avoid injury, the entire building should be inspected, and dangerous areas should be addressed. While this may seem overwhelming, this task can come down to a number of simple upgrades and adjustments to make the environment safer. This can include improvements like adding rubber padding along the ends of stairs, designating emergency exits, installing rubber mats at entryways to prevent slips and falls, and ensuring that railings are secure.
Additionally, this can include making sure that all tools and equipment are installed properly and safely. For example, wires and electric cables should be covered or taped down to prevent employees from tripping over them.
There are also areas that may require continued maintenance, like interior and exterior infrastructure. Walkways can become dangerous when icy, so make sure you have someone available to come and salt those walkways in the winter months. Additionally, for buildings that get a lot of sunlight exposure, UV-protected windows can improve occupant comfort while minimizing energy drain on heating and cooling systems.
2. Use Signs and Graphics
Signage is an affordable yet effective way to remind employees of potential hazards and convey appropriate procedures to prevent injury and illness. Even for the most seasoned employees, this sort of information can be useful and preventative.
These days, social distancing graphics and other visual reminders to maintain disease prevention protocols are necessary to creating a healthy work environment. This type of signage can help employees and customers maintain a safe distance from each other and also remind those entering the building to follow safety measures like wearing masks and sanitizing or washing hands. Once social distancing guidelines are lifted, they can easily be removed from windows, floors, and walls.
3. Keep Things Clean
One of the key steps to maintaining healthy work environment standards is to ensure that your office or retail store stays clean. To prevent the spread of germs and disease, high-touch surfaces should regularly be sanitized, and frequent hand washing should be encouraged for employees.
Businesses can further ensure the cleanliness of their space with technologies like NanoSeptic® self-cleaning surface films and PURE ZONE® antimicrobial films. Ideal for schools, airports, hotels, retailers, and restaurants, these films are applied on surfaces (i.e., door handles) and effectively reduce the transfer of bacteria and germs. These technologies are important investments in spaces where cleanliness is vital.
A messy work environment can also lead to unnecessary injury. Make sure that all spills are cleaned up quickly and that tools and boxes stay organized and out of the right of way. Establish appropriate waste classifications, so employees and customers know where and how to dispose of food and other waste.
4. Install Safety Shields
Protect your employees by installing personal protective shields between desks or at registers and other areas where employees may interact with the public. Retail sneeze guards can prevent the spread of germs and disease, which is especially important now with the spread of COVID-19. These protective shields can be custom designed for your business and manufactured from a variety of materials, but polycarbonate shields are the most durable.
Also, these shields can be installed between desks to keep employees safe from each other in office settings. They can be customized with additional benefits like cloaking privacy or switchable privacy to give employees privacy along with safety from the spread of germs.
5. Apply Safety Films to Window & Door Glass
When glass windows and doors shatter, it can be a safety hazard, especially in the case of extreme weather and catastrophic events. One step you can take to improve the safety of your work environment is to install safety and security films on your building’s windows and doors. These transparent films are designed to hold broken glass together to prevent dangerous, sharp shards from forming when the glass is broken and, in turn, protect those inside.
While these 5 steps are great ways to improve the safety of your workplace, one of the best things you can do to ensure a safe and healthy workplace environment is to encourage open communication with your employees. When they feel comfortable approaching you with an issue that makes them feel unsafe, or if they feel like safety standards are not being met, everyone benefits from the improvements made.