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Safety training benefits people in all areas of a business. People in office buildings need to know what hazards they could be exposed to, just like people on a construction site.

How Facility Managers Can Improve Workplace Safety Now

July 10, 2023
Implement these actionable tips today to increase your tenants’ and your team’s safety at work.

Over 5,000 American workers became the victims of fatal workplace injuries in 2021. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), businesses nationwide reported 2.6 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses during the same year.

Although the latter figure decreased slightly between 2020 and 2021, it is still cause for concern and shows that businesses in all industries need to do more to protect workers. In many companies, the responsibility for those improvements falls to building owners, building managers and their facility management teams. It is hard to overestimate the size and complexity of the task.

In this article, we aim to make the mammoth task of improving workplace safety more accessible. Read on for actionable tips you can implement today to increase your tenants’ and your team’s safety at work.

Defining and Improving Workplace Safety

What constitutes a safe work environment differs from industry to industry, business to business and often from job site to job site. So, how can building owners and facility management teams start to create safer workplaces?

One of the best places to start is to review industry-specific workplace regulations published by organizations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The regulations and guidelines published by these organizations provide a framework for business-specific or site-specific regulations.

However, several areas apply to most American businesses independently of individual industries. Here is a closer look at those areas, including tips to increase workplace safety today.

1. Providing Safety Training Sessions

Safety training benefits workers in all areas of a business. While it may not seem obvious at first, teams in office buildings need to understand the most common hazards they’re potentially exposed to just as much as workers on a construction site.

Wet floors can lead to slips and falls, incorrectly installed carpets and cables can easily cause trip hazards, and hot water leaking from a coffee machine could cause burns. Creating a safety culture within a company or an office building starts by making tenants aware of potential hazards and teaching them how to mitigate those risks.

Granted, potential accident risks may be more evident on construction sites or other places, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist in all workplaces. Aside from potential accidents, there is also the risk of sudden illness. Again, without relevant training, workers might struggle to take the most effective action to deal with the problem.

Top tips to address the problem now:

  • Ensure that safety training is part of the onboarding process for new employees or tenants.
  • Offer regular updates and refresher training for existing building tenants.
  • Never underestimate the accident risk in seemingly safe locations.

2. Encouraging Relevant Safety Certifications

Offering safety training sessions is an excellent step toward creating a safety culture within a company, office building or job site. That said, facilities managers and building owners can further strengthen their commitment to workplace safety by encouraging team members to work toward safety certificates.

OSHA offers options that are relevant to most industries. The administration’s Safety and Health Fundamentals Certificate covers health and safety standards, health management, incident investigation, fall hazard awareness and other topics. The certification is currently available for general industry, but there are also more specialized versions addressing the construction and maritime sectors.

With required contact times between 68 and 77 hours, this certification requires a substantial commitment that may put some businesses off or prove impractical. If that’s the case with your business, it doesn’t mean you have to forego workplace safety-related training. Consider offering workplace-specific first-aid qualifications to team members. Many can be completed within hours or one or two days, making them more accessible to businesses.

Top tips to address the problem now:

  • Research formal safety-related certification programs to strengthen the organization’s commitment to safety.

3. Scheduling Regular Facility Inspections

Not all accidents happen suddenly and without warning. In many cases, small problems build up over time and go undetected until one strike proves to be too much.

Schedule regular facility inspections to detect potential problems early and address small issues before they can develop into big problems or lead to major accidents. Initially, these inspections may seem disruptive, but companies need to consider the bigger picture. Taking time to identify smaller, safety-related problems gives building owners and facility managers a chance to resolve them cost-effectively and without major downtime.

Regular facility inspections also offer excellent opportunities to consult the on-site team and get their opinion on which issues need to be resolved most urgently.

Top tips to address the problem now:

  • Schedule regular facility inspections (for example, every quarter) to identify potential safety issues early.
  • Adhere to manufacturers’ recommendations for maintenance to avoid small problems growing larger.

4. Wearing Safety Equipment

Just a few years ago, wearing safety equipment meant wearing hard hats and protective glasses. While these are still part of personal protective equipment, employers and facilities managers can now protect their teams with more sophisticated technologies.

Location-tracking safety devices offer an excellent solution for employees alone in remote locations. Depending on the company’s requirements, these devices could be as simple as an app on an employee’s phone or as sophisticated as a wearable panic button. They have one thing in common: making it easy for the worker to access help quickly if they have a problem or feel threatened.

Which device is the most effective? The answer depends on the workplace’s location and the individual job’s demands. One of the best ways to select the most suitable solution is to consult with the workers the company would like to issue the devices.

Top tips to address the problem now:

  • Research suitable, wearable safety equipment and create a shortlist.
  • Consult with employees in remote locations to identify the most suitable solution.

Conclusion

Workplace safety remains a critical issue for businesses across the United States. Several thousand workplace fatalities and millions of injuries and illnesses show that more must be done to improve workplace safety. Providing safety training, encouraging relevant certifications, inspecting job sites and offering wearable safety equipment are some options available to facilities managers and building owners.

Combined with effective safety policies and procedures, these measures can go a long way toward preventing accidents and injuries.

About the Author

Yasmine Mustafa

Yasmine Mustafa is the CEO and co-founder of ROAR, a technology company dedicated to cultivating safer workplaces. The company’s patented workplace panic button solution provides employees with one press of a button to protect your people, here and now. 

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