As a business owner, you’re responsible for maintaining the safety of your workplace. Not only do you want to avoid injuries on the job and costly worker’s compensation claims, but you also want your employees to feel safe in your commercial space to allow them do their jobs more effectively. Regardless of the type of business you operate, there are several areas of concern to pay attention to within the confines of safety. Use this checklist to evaluate the safety of your business in four major areas.
Are there clear paths to the exit? Getting out of the building quickly in the event of an emergency can be the difference between life and death. Employees need to have clear paths to the exit, so remove all obstructions—such as cords or equipment—that may block the pathway. In addition, all exits should be clearly marked with signs that will still work in the event of a power outage; all emergency exit doors should be able to be opened without a key.
Do you have fire extinguishers and fire safety equipment? Fires are a major commercial safety concern—and particularly electrical fires as circuits in older buildings can easily become overloaded. Employees need to know where to find fire protection equipment quickly in the event of a blaze. Fire extinguishers, hoses, flame-retardant blankets and escape ladders are just a few of the pieces of equipment your business should have on hand in an accessible location.
Do employees have adequate ventilation? Especially if you use hazardous materials or operate machinery in your workplace, it’s important to be cautious about the presence of fumes that are dangerous if breathed in high concentrations. Therefore, you need ventilation in your workplace to provide fresh air. Even in a basic office building, ventilation and air cleaning measures like HVAC filters and live plants can make the workplace safer.
Are hazardous materials properly labeled and stored? You may be surprised to learn how many hazardous materials you have in your workplace, even if your business doesn’t use or produce them in the manufacturing process. Cleaning supplies are often flammable, as are acidic or caustic items. Everything needs to be clearly marked and stored in a secure location away from heat, flames and machinery.
Taking the time to assess your workplace safety now can make a big difference in the future. Although every business owner wants to believe there will never be an accident on site, they can and do happen—especially if you aren’t paying attention to safety. The work you put in now may save you the time and expense of recovering from a major safety-related incident at work.
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