Safety First: How to Prioritize Workplace Safety Awareness
Did you know that June is National Safety Month? The National Safety Council (NSC) observes this month by focusing on saving lives and preventing injuries in and out of the workplace. This year, the NSC provided resources on a variety of topics that promote workers’ safety.
At GBA, safety is a year-round affair. The firm has a safety team comprised of group safety leads, a health and safety committee and two assistant chief safety officers. They are all led by Chief Safety Officer Bryan Rasmussen, a GBA Fire Protection/Mission Critical Group Associate.
“While we have leaders within our safety process and committee of safety leaders, each employee at the firm is a safety officer,” said Rasmussen. “Safety enforcement is the responsibility of every person for themselves and those around them.”
Implementing a Plan
When creating a safety plan, the first step any workplace should take is conducting a hazard assessment. During this step, safety leaders should try and consider all possible scenarios that could lead to threats or risks. It is important to coordinate any decisions with requirements from outside organizations. This includes governing bodies, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), insurance requirements, a landlord if leasing and client contracts. Identified risks should inform a mitigation plan.
“A good safety plan doesn’t just address those potential risks on its own,” adds Rasmussen. “A successful safety plan also includes implementation, training and individual staff taking ownership for following the plan.”
GBA does this throughout the year with educational opportunities on safe practices. Safety leaders review emergency response plans for the firm’s annual training. Employee safety includes both internal and external factors, which GBA considers when planning training. GBA focuses on internal factors with initiatives for managing stress, meditation and financial wellness. Since GBA works in professional service fields including engineering, architecture and construction, external factors and job-site activities that employees face in the field also pose a risk to safety. Because of this, it is important for all staff in this industry to go through a minimum OSHA 10.
For workplaces that have a safety plan in place, it is critical to still review and revise it annually. This should also occur in response to major events, changes in policy or legislation. Doing this will help incorporate risk factors that come up after the plan is first published.
Staying Safe in the Time of COVID-19
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic adds factors to consider when enforcing workplace safety. At the onset of the virus, GBA developed response plans for remote work to flatten the curve and then transition back into the workplace. The firm created an internal task force to implement the advice and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public officials and industry trends. The response plans were and are continuously evaluated and adjusted as information changes. This is frequently communicated with staff, so they are aware of safety measures.
“COVID-19 affects each individual differently, which leads to many different views on the risk,” said Rasmussen. “Because of this, it’s important to have a set task force, as our CEO Tim Ross did for GBA, that openly shares information on the workplace’s plan and keeps everyone on the same page.”
Contributing to Office Safety
Like Rasmussen said, each employee plays a role in contributing to workplace safety. So, how can employees ensure that they are taking steps to keep their office safe? Rasmussen recommends that they:
- Participate in training opportunities.
- Stay familiar with their office’s health and safety guides, including annual updates.
- Attend workplace wellness events to learn more about implementing a healthy lifestyle.
- Speak up! If an employee sees an unsafe condition or has an idea to make policy better, they should not hesitate to share this information.
- Respect and thoughtfully consider other’s input on safety.
GBA commits to creating an environment where employees feel safe. While the end of National Safety Month is here, creating a safe workplace should always be a workplace’s top priority.