A safety and security professional’s main concern will always be protection of life as well as safety, and then the protection of property. With that said, in 2009 privately owned companies sustained over 3,270,000 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses, costing businesses and staff alike 1,238,000 days away from work. The direct cost of workplace accidents was tallied at over $52 billion. As well as the direct costs, a workplace injury will additionally incur indirect costs.
Indirect cost consist of:
- lost output;
- value of employee time used with accident analysis and record-keeping;
- training as well as replacement;
- administrative overhead;
- any merchandise damage;
- possibly increased insurance costs.
As a consequence, the $52 billion of direct costs from work accidents identified by the 2009 Safety Index2 created $80 billion to $200 billion of indirect expenses, for a total financial impact of between $120 billion to $240 billion. That’s greater than the 2008 GDP of Missouri!
Exactly where would this integrate into the model of a security program…everywhere! Being security professionals, we don many hats, oftentimes simultaneously and as is frequently the situation, we are so conscientious in protecting our organizations from vandalism, cyber threats, theft, fraud, workplace violence, trespassers, and other identified menaces, that we fail to remember that the safety of our colleagues and guests is equally as, if not far more, imperative than safeguarding them from criminal threats.
Critical in our responsibility to protect, we have to report and document hazardous conditions which are identified. In October of 2010, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office accused around 19 Target stores in San Diego County of violating hazmat waste laws designed to safeguard employees and customers.
Performing frequent workplace inspections aids in averting accidents and injuries. By using critical evaluation of the workplace, inspections identify and document potential issues for corrective actions. Cooperative occupational safety and health committees will help plan, conduct, report and monitor inspections. Consistent workplace inspections are an important part of the total occupational health and safety program.
As an essential part of a security and safety program, workplaces should be inspected consistently.
Inspections are essential because they allow you to:
- take note of concerns of employees and managers;
- gain additional knowledge about jobs and tasks;
- detect existing and potential dangers;
- identify root cause of hazards;
- keep track of controls(personal protective equipment, engineering controls, policies, procedures);
- advise corrective measures.
Also check out this post to better identify workplace hazards.
Pre-planning is fundamental for a highly effective inspection and every inspection should analyze who, what, where, when and how. Give special attention to elements likely to develop unsafe or unhealthy conditions due to stress, wear, impact, vibration, heat, corrosion, chemical reaction or misuse. Examine the entire work area every time. Incorporate places where no work is performed regularly, for example parking lots, breakrooms, office storage areas and locker rooms.
Examine all of the workplace elements – the environment, the equipment and the processes. The environment consists of such risks as noise, vibration, lighting, temperature, and ventilation. Equipment consists of materials, tools and apparatus for producing a product or a service. The processes include how the worker interacts with the other elements in a series of tasks or operations.
There exists an innumerable amount of workplace risks, some forms of workplace hazards include;
- safety hazards: e.g., inadequate machine guards, unsafe workplace conditions, unsafe work practices;
- Biological hazards caused by organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites;
- chemical hazards caused by solid, liquid, gas, dust, fume, or mist;
- Ergonomic hazards caused by anatomical, physiological, and psychological demands on the worker, such as repetitive and forceful movements, vibration, temperature extremes, and awkward postures arising from improper work methods and improperly designed workstations, tools, and equipment.
- Physical hazards caused by noise, vibration, energy, weather, heat, cold, electricity, radiation, and pressure.
Fire safety is equally if not more important. Though fire inspections are normally conducted by your local fire official, this does not absolve the security professional or the organization from the responsibility of identifying fire hazards, maintaining a plan, or conducting drills.
Sure, as security professionals we are more than likely not certified firefighters, nor should we take it upon our own to fight every fire. However, in the probable occurrence of a fire in your business, who do you suppose everyone will rely on in the course of an evacuation. That’s right…us.
As reported by the National Fire Prevention Association, a building fire occurred every 66 seconds in 2009 resulting in $10 .8 billion in real estate damage. Along with preventative fire activities, security professionals must have a well-rehearsed fire safety action plan. This is achieved by strong organizational guidance to ensure that all participants know very well what to carry out at the time of critical occasions.
Setting up a Safety Action Plan
To defend against the threat of damage, injury and lost business, all of these core guidelines will assist to develop an excellent fire prevention policy:
1) Produce a property layout diagram. Ensure the building layout is posted to every floor with exits well marked. Every person needs to examine the layout and know the specific location of the closest exits.
2) Distinguish the exits. In addition to knowing the nearest exit from the daily work area, everybody should know at the very least two methods out regardless of where they may be in the building.
3) Train personnel. OSHA standards call for employers to review components of the fire prevention plan with staff that are essential for self-protection. Training programs need to contain the protocol for fire extinguisher use in the eventuality of a fire.
4) Have an emergency action plan (EAP) available and rehearse it. Conduct unannounced fire alarm drills with employees so everybody is aware of the exit strategy in case of a fire. Determine a safe gathering place outside the building where a headcount should be completed.
5) Perform routine inspections. Make sure that fire extinguishers and emergency back-up lights are inspected and tested by a qualified fire prevention professional. All of the fire extinguishing equipment needs to be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Carry out daily facility inspections to eliminate any existing fire risks.
6) Routinely inspect evacuation exits. As part of the fire prevention plan, regularly verify that all doors leading out of the building open up quite easily as well as have not become blocked. All exit sign lighting should be inspected to ensure that signs are plainly visible in the event of a fire.
7) Inspect sprinklers and smoke alarm systems. Ensure that smoke alarm systems are inspected and tested by a qualified professional to provide adequate warning in the eventuality of a fire.
8) Ensure that equipment and surroundings are clean and up to date. Establish strict cleaning operations in ventilation systems to reduce grease accumulation.
9) Be aware of fire risks in common kitchen areas. Restrict storage of combustible materials around cooking areas which could help cause the spread of flames. Ensure sufficient clearance exists between cooking equipment to eliminate heat build-up.
A straightforward self-inspection worksheet should be created and your local fire department official is likely to be glad to assist. This self-inspection worksheet should explain where you should check for common fire risks inside and outside the building, as well as the way to pay attention to exit doors and signs, pathways, lighting and any combustible materials that may be in close proximity to debris or combustible storage items.
You should produce a worksheet that has a checklist for electrical breakers and outlets, fire extinguishers, fire alarm systems and smoke detectors.
I have included a template for an Emergency Action Plan to help you in setting up a base for your safety program: