Fall represents change. For many, this means leaves changing colors, clocks rolling back, and returning to school. In the workplace, the changing season presents an opportunity for assessing workplace safety and preparing for the harsher weather to come.
Assessing Workplace Safety
Fall provides the perfect reminder for looking at current workplace safety and determining what works and what needs changing. While daily safety assessments likely already occur, a more large-scale evaluation should happen, at least yearly.
At a bare minimum, consider the following when making a large-scale safety assessment:
- Workplace layout – Are there any potential tripping, falling & slipping hazards? Could the layout be adjusted to allow for increased efficiency and safety?
- Workstations – Does the workstation layout reduce the potential for repetitive strain injuries? Have employees been consulted for ideas on improving work areas?
- Environment – Consider temperature, lighting, and ventilation. Are employees comfortable? Is the lighting appropriate for reducing eye strain? Are there any ventilation problems?
- Emergency procedures – Do employees know what to do in an emergency? Is all emergency equipment up-to-date and in good working order?
- First aid – Do employees know where to find first aid equipment and how to use it? Are all first aid stations well-stocked?
Note that the tips above provide a general workplace safety assessment approach. Specific jobs and locations will require their own unique assessment checklist and process. Take time this Fall to consider these particular areas as part of your overall safety assessment.
In addition to using Fall as a reminder to perform overall safety assessments, let it also be a time to prepare the workplace for the quickly approaching winter weather.
Preparing the Workplace for Winter Weather
Preparing the workplace for winter weather begins with training its employees. Start by creating awareness of changing conditions on the workplace commute. For example, shorter days mean the sun can significantly impact the drive to and from work, so ensure employees understand the importance of sun protection for their eye health and overall safety. In addition, visibility can be a serious challenge during the commute, and promoting awareness of this can make sure employees have a safe commute.
In addition to promoting commuter safety, take time to prepare entrances and exits for the approaching harsher weather. This begins with clearing walkways of fallen, wet leaves, which can be slippery, and also making sure bushes are trimmed and sidewalks don’t have tripping hazards made more challenging to see when snow falls. In addition, shorter days mean more employees arriving in darkness, so ensure entrances and exits are well lit.
For many, Fall involves varying temperatures with more extreme temperatures on the way. Some employees may use space heaters during these seasons, and taking the time to ensure they are in good working condition and used correctly is a good idea. In addition, assessing the state of a building’s heating system and providing windows that don’t have excessive drafts are all part of preparing the workplace for winter.
Many workplaces also have equipment used outdoors in cold weather. Fall presents the perfect time to ensure this equipment is in good working condition and ready for the extreme weather that can hit any time. In addition, if contract providers are used (snow plowing, for example), now is an excellent time to ensure services are lined up.
Taking time to prepare the workplace for changing weather makes it safer and helps maintain and even improve employee morale.
Change is Inevitable
The only constant in life is changes. Fortunately, we can use change as a reminder to assess current conditions and to prepare for what’s coming. So take time this Fall to look at your company’s current safety policies and prepare the building and your employees for the inevitable change. Doing so will not just create a more pleasant workplace but a safer one as well.