It’s Summer Safety Week in downtown Spokane! August 1 through 5, downtown is sharing resources and tips to foster a safer, more inviting, community for all. Today we are highlighting workplace safety. In every field of work, it is important to contribute to a safe work environment to help keep yourself and your coworkers safe and happy.
In the office
Office safety Is everyone’s responsibility. During team meetings or when onboarding new hires, make it a point to stress that office safety is shared by all team members.
Make sure your desk setup is ergonomic: To maintain a neutral posture, your head should be centered over your neck and shoulders, wrists flat and elbows resting comfortably at your side. If your feet won’t touch the ground unless you lean forward, use a footrest.
Take regular breaks to get up and move around: Sitting all day puts office workers at risk for numerous health problems. Create a personal and easy stretching routine or take a quick walk to break up the day.
When it’s slippery due to ice and snow, even though the downtown Clean Team helps to ensure ADA ramps and crosswalks are clear, walk carefully. Winter slips and falls are extremely common. To avoid them, walk like a penguin by walking flat footed taking short, slow steps. It’s also important to wear sensible footwear and carry only what you can handle.
Use a headset for prolonged or frequent phone use. Cradling the phone between your shoulder and ear can cause neck and back pain.
Keep your workplace tidy. Clean up spills immediately, keep common spaces free of clutter, and tie up or secure cords so they don’t pose a trip hazard.
Don’t let electrical cords create a fire risk. Avoid running electrical cords under carpet or through windows and doorways and don’t fasten them with unapproved devices, such as staples.
Prevent the spread of potentially harmful germs: Wear masks when needed; Apply hand sanitizer before leaving your desk; Wash hands before and after eating; Cover coughs and sneezes with inside of elbow instead of hands; Keep hands away from face whenever possible. Most importantly, when sick, stay home when possible to prevent further spread.
Whether you work inside or out in the heat all day it is important to stay hydrated at work. It is essential to stay hydrated with water and warm liquids to prevent lightheadedness and lack of focus.
Know your office emergency procedures. Make sure you know what to do in the event of a fire, storm, violent intruder, medical problem or other emergency. Being aware of your surroundings is paramount to avoiding workplace injuries. You should always know locations of emergency exits and first aid kits.
As we grow more dependent upon technology, we need to develop better online security defenses. Develop habits will help you to recognize and counter threats to your digital safety and become less vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Think twice before clicking on links or opening attachments. Even if an email looks like it’s from someone you know, take care with attachments. Take that extra second to avoid walking into a digitally dangerous situation. Don’t reply to the email because the sender’s identity might have been compromised.
Whenever you are requested to provide private information (yours or anyone else’s), verify the identity of the requester — even if it appears to be somebody you know. Con artists are clever in how they collect information to steal information and identities. Even if you think you’re safe, regularly check your financial statements and credit reports.
Never reveal your passwords to anyone. Make them long, strong, unique and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible.
Keep a close eye on your belongings when you’re in public places. Lock things up or take them with you before you leave, even if you’ll only be away for a second. When you’re at work, secure your area and lock your computer screen before leaving your desk. Take your phone and other portable items with you.
Automate software updates and periodically restart your devices to ensure that updates are fully installed.
Back up critical files and store them in a physically separate location from the originals and periodically test them.
Delete sensitive information when it’s no longer needed. Develop a record retention schedule that defines the period of time that records should be retained and when they should be destroyed.
Learn how to recognize suspected scams and other suspicious activities. At work, suspicious emails should be forwarded to your in-house or contract IT team for review.
The most common injuries to workers in the hospitality industry are from: muscular and musculoskeletal trauma; slips and trips; cuts and burns; exposure to heat and/or cold; electrical hazards; hitting or being hit by an object; mental stress; and fatigue.
If you see something that could possibly injure you or one of your co-workers, speak up. Your supervisor is responsible for taking-action to reduce the risk of injury at your worksite.
Keep floors clean and dry. In addition to being a slip hazard, continually wet surfaces promote the growth of mold, fungi, and bacteria, which can cause infections. Clean up spills immediately, this includes water, grease, food, and oil. Provide warning signs on wet floors, use matting and wear proper footwear to include slip-resistant soles to avoid slip and falls.
Develop and maintain an emergency action plan, fire prevention plan, and train employees accordingly. Keep flammable objects away from open flames and know the location of all power sources which may need to be turned off in case of emergency.
Make sure to keep work areas and emergency exits clear. A cluttered work area can be dangerous.
An emergency evacuation plan should be developed and all employees trained. The “Manager on Duty” (MOD) should know who is working and have a list of employees working in the facility each day. In the event of a fire or other emergency, a meeting place or place should be assigned away from the front of the building and away from fire equipment.
Employers are required to have a written Hazard Communication Program (HCP) if their employees may be exposed to hazardous chemicals. Each day millions of workers are potentially exposed to any number of chemical hazards causing serious health problems or even death. All workers need to be trained to recognize potential chemical hazards and use proper protective equipment and protocols. 1
Maintain a current list of chemicals and current Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Store hazardous materials in appropriate containers and in appropriate areas. Make sure engineering controls, such as ventilation, are clean and working properly.
Ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) issued to employees meets OSHA guidelines for protection. PPE users should receive training on use, maintenance, storage, end-of-life indicators, and how to obtain replacements.
Use protections like toe boards, toe rails, and nets to prevent objects from falling. Stack boxes neatly and place heavier objects on lower shelves. Keep stacked boxes and objects out of the way of aisles and work areas.
Many employees work in a fast-paced and sometimes dangerous environment. Not the least of those dangers is the risk of back injury. The amount of strain placed on the muscles and discs of your back is directly related to handling techniques that you use every day.
To avoid back injury, follow these healthy back tips:
- Warm up prior to your work shift and periodically during your shift
- Maintain a healthy lower back posture by keeping the head up and back arched
- Pivot your feet instead of twisting your back. Move your feet
- Use a staggered stance (feet slightly wider than shoulder-width) with knees bent to take advantage of the strong leg muscles
- Move smoothly. Avoid quick and jerky movements
- Keep loads close to your body
- Do not work beyond your capacity
- Use proper assistive devices
Many work-related injuries occur when an employee is tired or stressed. Extended or unusual work shifts may be more stressful physically, mentally, and emotionally. Non-traditional shifts and extended work hours may disrupt the body’s regular schedule, leading to increased fatigue, stress, and lack of concentration. These effects lead to an increased risk of operator error, injuries, and/or accidents.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
Help ensure that coming to the workplace is an easy and safe experience for all employees. CPTED is the theory that proper design and effective use of the built environment can reduce incidence and fear of crime. Leading to improvements in the quality of life for you, your employees and your patrons.
CPTED is grounded in four principals:
- Natural Surveillance
- Natural Access Control
- Territorial Reinforcement
- Maintenance and Management
While the City, the Police Department, and the DSP coordinate programs and activities to directly address the drivers of urban criminality, property owners should be actively involved in working to resolve these problems as well. CPTED provides simple, cost-effective investments that are proven to be effective in lowering crime.
The Ratepayer Advisory Board of the Business Improvement District has recognized the value of CPTED by allowing property owners and managers to leverage funds through a rebate improvement program that would otherwise be paid to the BID in the annual assessment. BID businesses can request an assessment from a CPTED trained Downtown Ambassador or Spokane Police Department Officer and gain recommendations for improving the environment of your property. Learn more here.