Staples second annual workplace safety survey results were recently released, which coincides with National Safety Month this June, a time of heightened awareness regarding emergency preparedness among small businesses. Although reported that natural disasters are rated high among safety concerns among office staff, more than sixty percent of businesses report that recent catastrophes, including Hurricane Sandy, have not led to the revision of safety plans. Here is my recent interview with expert Bob Risk, Senior Strategic Safety, Health and Wellness Manager for Staples.
Q. For National Safety Month, Staples released its second annual survey on safety in the workplace. What statistics about small business particularly stood out to you?
A. Natural disasters are the top safety concern among small business employees, yet the majority of businesses (67%) reported that recent disasters, including storms such as Hurricane Sandy, haven’t led them to reassess their safety plans. And the discrepancy between safety preparation and the perception of safety was interesting, too. Though most small business employees felt their workplaces were generally safe, it was surprising the percentage of respondents that reported never doing activities that would help them better prepare for emergencies. The survey found that 41% of small business employees have never participated in safety drills, and that nearly as many (38%), have never participated in safety training. Nearly 1 in 4 small biz employees said their company does not review emergency preparedness communications plans with the staff.
Q. What should be included in a small business emergency preparedness plan?
A. A small business plan emergency preparedness plan should include these four things:
–1) Procedures to respond to various emergency situations.
–2) Methods to recover and maintain business continuity.
–3) Securing adequate resources and supplies for crisis events.
–4) Employee training.
In addition to planning, it is imperative small businesses have the safety products in place to support the plan.
Q. In some small businesses, the majority of employees work remotely. How do you manage emergency situations when the majority of workforce is not in the office?
A. First make sure to communicate in a timely manner what to expect in an emergency situation. The Staples safety survey showed that 1 in 3 small business employees reported that their place of business communicated at the last minute what to expect and do in an emergency situation. Also, if the majority of your workforce is working remotely, make sure your servers are in a protected location and that your essential data would be backed-up.
Q. Beyond storms and natural disasters, what are other safety concerns in the small biz workplace?
A. The second biggest safety concern among small biz employees is trips, slips and falls in the workplace. It’s commonplace knowledge, but to help limit these accidents in the workplace, small businesses should be vigilant about cleaning up spills immediately and posting signs identifying hazards, such as wet surfaces or areas that are being cleaned. And, electrical cords are often an overlooked hazard – make sure these are not laid out in heavy foot traffic areas.
To help prevent trips, slips and falls in the workplace, Staples offers oil or water sorbents, spill kits, cord covers and more. Staples also gives businesses the opportunity to have a site survey done by a Staples distribution expert.
Another big concern among small business employees is ergonomics. One in four small biz employees reported experiencing numbness and tingling due to their workstation, and for these folks, 38 percent said they experience this pain and discomfort at least sometimes, if not a majority of the time. Providing ergonomic equipment helps prevent workplace injuries.
Q. What are essential safety products small businesses should have on hand?
A. First, small businesses should assess and make sure they comply with OSHA regulations. While exact safety products may differ between businesses, a good guideline of safety product must-haves small businesses should have on site include:
—Personal Protective Equipment (such as Protective clothing, Respiratory protection)
—Emergency Lighting (Crank Powered Flashlights, Light Sticks)
For more information, check out the Staples Core Safety Product Checklist
Staples understands employee safety and health is a priority, and offers an expanded assortment of more than 6,000 safety products. For more information, visit Staples.com/Safety.
Disclosure: Staples compensated me to publish this post as a small business expert.
For more information on safety in the workplace, visit Staples Safety Research Center that contains articles on choosing safety products, emergency preparedness tips, and health and safety know-how information for businesses.