Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,“what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
The goal of every business owner is to grow. Hopefully, that means growing from solopreneurship to adding an employee or two. If you have a plan to keep your employees safe and healthy before you ever add your first employees, you’ll be well on your way to being a good employer.
The flip is also true. As an employee, you should be able to expect your supervisor and employer to provide a safe and healthy work environment. Not all of the items below are required, they’re just good business practices and may be items worth negotiating during the job offer process.
There are many rules and regulations and statutes for what constitute a safe and healthy work environment. Those should be your first and foremost point of reference. But those basics are just a starting point for creating a safe workplace. There’s more you can do as an employer and should expect as an employee.
Don’t work too much
It can be easy to work a lot when there is much to do. But study after study shows excessive work hours don’t equal good quality work and can be a drain on overall health and well-being. Moreover, excessive overtime can lead to a toxic work environment for everyone. As we discussed before, you can’t fake a positive atmosphere. So if your employees have been working lots of hours lately, you should find a way to let them take some time off or perhaps provide lunch or a snack in the afternoon as a way to socialize and take a break. Every office has a busy season, what makes a good work space is a balance when work is a bit slower.
As an employee, don’t be afraid (within reason of course!) to use your vacation time. Even a half day away from the office can be enough of a break to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to return to work.
Be mindful of rest, exhaustion can lead to mistakes or injuries and adds to increasing stress .
Sort out an evacuation plan
An oft-overlooked element of workplace safety, especially for those who work at home is an evacuation plan in an emergency An evacuation plan will make sure everyone knows what to do if there is a fire. If you have employees, make sure you know who is working (if you’re lucky enough to have more than one!) and make sure you have shared a meeting place away from the building. If possible, post this information so it is easily accessible in an emergency.
In all workspaces (even your home!), there should be extinguishers in key locations. If possible, learn how to use the extinguisher. If you regularly have clients or customers in your office, consider creating a code word to convey an emergency situation without inducing panic. Consider adding evacuation equipment if you have staff or clients with disabilities, who might not be able to leave the building on their own.
Send them off for health and safety
You can also keep your employees safe and healthy by sending them off for training. There are all kinds of training opportunities for businesses of all sizes. If you do have more than yourself in your employ, considering finding a time for everyone to attend a training. This is a great team building opportunity.
Make a leader in the team
Another way to keep your employees safe and healthy is to appoint or elect a leader who will be responsible in an emergency. The leader should know where the fire extinguishers and emergency material are located, and may be the person to use the extinguisher or other emergency items. They can be a go-to person in an illness, accident or injury situation.
Obviously, if you are the only employee, you are the responsible party.
Overall, whether you are a business of one or 500, plan for emergencies big and small.