The world and workspace are very different places in 2016 to what they were 50 years ago. The advancement of technology can cause potential risks to staff, and as a business owner, you should be aware of these dangers. However, as with anything, there is an opposite side of the coin. Modern technology, architecture, guidelines and knowledge can be utilized to make your workforce safer. There are now apps out there that monitor the whereabouts of your staff. There are office layouts that are equally conducive to co-working as they are private meetings. There are best practices that keep everybody who enters your workplace healthy and protected.
So, with this in mind, here is a guide to keeping your workforce safe in the modern world, with the assistance of the new means now available to us.
Check their tools and equipment regularly
There are all sorts of tools and equipment that your staff regularly use that could be defective. Naturally, heavy machinery will be the first thing that springs to mind. However, there are many other items that your workforce come into regular contact with that may seem less harmful if they defect. Drivers, for example, rely on working airbags. Anyone who eats in your canteen relies on food that is free from anything that could give them food poisoning. Plug sockets in all parts of the office, factory or another workspace should be wired correctly, and never sparking.
First off, it is your duty to make sure any products they come into contact with are safe. But secondly, if the worst does happen, you should provide support to your staff if they wish to sue. This page by Brown and Crouppen explains more about product liability Attorneys and what they can provide.
Introduce a staff tracking app
Anybody you hire to be in your workforce automatically becomes partly your responsibility. But this responsibility doesn’t just stretch to when they are at their desks. It covers all and any times they are out of work-related tasks, be that events, meetings or travel. It also covers the time they take to reach their workplace in the morning and to get home again.
Obviously, taking responsibility for what might be a few hundred staff in some cases can seem very daunting. This is why finding tools and means to protect them is a wise decision. It means that you have help in ensuring they are safe.
While technological advancements can mean that your staff are more vulnerable than ever in some ways, it can also mean they are safer! This is because apps have been developed that allow you to monitor and track your workforce. This goes for whenever they are anywhere that is not their primary location, like the office. Plus, because everybody has a mobile phone these days, this monitoring can stretch company-wide.
The way that each of these systems works from product to product. However, as a general rule, there is a check-in and check-out system in place. If anybody doesn’t check in when they should, you are notified of this fact, and can take appropriate action. A staff tracking app is something you hope never to have to need, but will be so glad of if you one day do.
Ensure your HR department is an approachable place
Your HR manager will likely be a very hardworking and busy member of your workforce. There is a lot sitting on their shoulders. You’ll have made sure when you hired them that they could handle the pressure. However, it is crucial that no matter how busy or stressed they get, the HR department remains an approachable place. What happens if a staff member tries to visit or contact HR and feels like they have been dismissed in any way? They won’t feel like they can share whatever issue it is they have brought. While this might be something relatively minor, like wanting to move to a desk nearer a window, it could be something larger. They could have plucked up the courage to raise concerns about a colleagues excessive drinking, for example. Or, they might have witnessed an instance of workplace bullying. This is why the HR department and manager must be available to all and any complaints.
Consider your office layout carefully
A good office layout has loads of benefits. It can increase interactivity between different members of staff and departments. It can create a more effective working environment, which allows everyone to focus better. It can also increase staff retention rates as your workforce will enjoy being in the office as often as they are. However, it can also provide protection to your staff’s privacy. Open plan offices are all the rage at the moment, and for good reason. However, they do not provide much in the way of privacy. This is why your office should have a number of rooms off to one side. They shouldn’t be walked past often, and they shouldn’t be made of glass either! Both of these elements reduce a staff’s levels of privacy. He or she deserves to have a disciplinary meeting, or report a colleague, or hand in their notice, without being watched by colleagues.
Hire daily cleaners
With so many people, shoes and items being brought in and out of your office or workplace each day, the amount of dirt and bacteria build up is immense. This is why you keep your staff the safest from illness and infection with a daily cleaner, and nothing less. On desks, keyboards, mouse and phones are a breeding ground for germs. In the kitchens, the kettle and fridge handle will be handled many times a day by different people. The only way to keep germs at bay is too clean all of these hotspots daily. This is especially important during the winter when the amount of people with a common cold rises. Also, furnish your staff with antibacterial spray and blue roll. Encourage them to wipe down their desk every couple of days themselves. This is especially crucial if your cleaning staff are instructed not to move paperwork or clean underneath it. Bacteria will breed here unless the staff member does it themselves.
Hire overnight security
While your staff might not be at work at night, their personal files and documents are. As their employer, you should be protecting these documents. One solution is to hire an overnight security guard or multiple guards for a large premises. They can monitor the CCTV cameras and patrol the workspace through the night.
Encourage sick staff to take time off
In a demanding and hectic industry or place of work, healthy staff mean that more work gets done. However, when they get sick, there can be a temptation on both your and their parts for them to continue working. For you, you don’t lose a member of staff for a day or more. For them, they don’t fall behind on their work or projects or let the rest of their team down. They might even be scared that taking time off could put them in the firing line for redundancy. As a result, they continue to work while unwell.
While this can sound like the way it has to be, instead it can be incredibly counterintuitive. By coming into work will sick, the staff member is likely to infect other members of staff with the same illness. As a result, more and more staff will then be struggling to get through the day. It is far wiser to encourage staff to take time off, and to reassure them that doing so is okay. Furthermore, don’t let them come back before they are ready. Doing so can mean that they don’t recover properly, and get ill again a few days or weeks down the line.
Ensure the exterior of the office is safe
The exterior of your place of work should be just as safe as the inside. By keeping the car park well monitored, you are protecting your staff from financial damage caused if their vehicle is stolen or damaged. By keeping this area, and any other areas, well lit, you are protecting staff members from harm or attack.
Your workforce deserves to know that their safety, and the safety of their belongings, is of paramount importance to you. So, install lights in outdoor areas and ensure constant maintenance. Erect CCTV cameras, and again, keep them well maintained and monitored. If a staff member is harmed on your property, while working for your company, responsibility will fall on your shoulders. The amount you will be sued, and the amount of damage it would do to your reputation, would be far higher than the cost of the above security measures.
On the topic of outdoor space, be sure to protect staff from slips and trips here. If the area gets icy, be sure to have it gritted immediately, and warn staff to be careful. Similarly, entrance matting will stop staff from slipping if they walk directly from wet ground to dry ground.