A Healthy & Safe Work Space: Does Your Workplace Take These Areas Into Consideration?

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

In order for a workplace to be fully functional, healthy and safe, there are certain areas that need to be taken seriously. See here.

A healthy and safe work space goes beyond what meets the eye, such as air quality and temperature.

No matter what kind of business, it's crucial that the environment is equipped with these elements: an efficient HVAC system, exhaust fans, thermostats, smoke detectors, and Carbon Monoxide detectors. 

Based on the standards of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), there are specific measures and requirements that businesses must follow to remain lawful, as well as to provide an acceptable environment for both employees and customers.

The largest goal is to prevent injuries and illnesses for all involved. 

Related Article: Keeping Your Team Safe: The Real Business Risks of Workplace Injuries

HVAC System 

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. While the system typically has a lifespan of 15 to 20 years, if it's not properly maintained, it could cause risky and costly issues. A commercial HVAC system is a large unit, responsible for providing quality air flow and comfortable temperatures inside of businesses and commercial buildings.

If an HVAC unit fails, sales may be lost as well. If customers aren't comfortable, it could impact their choice of returning or staying long. It's important to have an HVAC seasonal maintenance checklist to ensure each season inside the business is a comfortable one. While sales are an obvious importance for any business, health easily outweighs that issue. If the business is one with perishable items, the temperature plays a role in the safety of those items. 

Along with temperature comes air quality. Businesses, schools and the people occupying them can easily be affected by bacteria if the HVAC system isn't properly maintained. When this bacteria grows, it's bad news for the building, workers, customers, and anybody else moving in and out of the building.  Additional issues include frozen or leaking pipes and costly hits to the business. For a safe and healthy atmosphere, an efficient HVAC system is a must.

Exhaust Fans and Thermostats 

Exhaust fans and thermostats correlate with the HVAC system. Heat and moisture both play a role in the existence of harsh odors and the build-up of mold and mildew. Exhaust fans promote business sanitation all around and are especially important in bathrooms and kitchens. Exhaust fans also help limit dust accumulation in the air due to the dust collector. 

When it comes to thermostats, it's important for them to read and produce comfortable temperatures. Uncomfortable temperatures can cause employees or customers to use more energy than necessary to accommodate the body, and this is an obvious risk factor. Severe temperatures can even lead to heat stress or hypothermia. Not only is a thermostat necessary for health and safety purposes, it's necessary for productivity. It's hard to have one without the other. 

Related Article:Workplace Accidents: How to Avoid Them and What to Do When They Happen

Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors 

Emergencies can occur at any given moment, and since the workplace is where the majority of people spend their days, it should be a safe place to occupy. Smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors should be up-to-date, equipped with the proper batteries and create an obvious alert when one or the other detects a threat of fire or Carbon Monoxide. Both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be maintained and regularly checked for functionality. 

In the case of such an emergency, the workplace should also have clear emergency exit signs and a clear emergency exit plan. If you're unaware of the location of the emergency exits or the plan, it's important to gain this knowledge right away. All emergency exit signs must be lit enough for a person of normal vision to see it, typically lit in red or green. 

Additional 

Along with these specific areas, it's also recommended that the business holds safety seminars with employees. This can include a rundown on emergency plans, how to access and utilize safety kits, CPR certification training, and more. If everyone is on the same page and well prepared, that is sometimes half the battle. 

Some businesses even go a step further with health plans and programs. These can consist of health education courses and group efforts to stay fit together. Plans and programs like this are on the rise within businesses as corporate social responsibility tactics continue to grow. Many employees are appreciative of programs such as this, and enjoy being involved in programs focused on bettering themselves and the workplace as a whole. 

Business owners, as well as commercial property owners, have the responsibility of taking on these concerns for employees, customers and others that occupy the building. If each of these aspects is covered, it's important to remain consistent. Staying on top of the workplace's safety features and health needs will help to keep a functioning, productive and happy workplace.

Related Article:With Power Comes Pain: The Downsides to Being the Boss

As mentioned previously, there is more to workplace health and safety that meets the eye. Therefore, owners should encourage open communication and consider the concerns of employees along the way. A large part of the job is taking care of the building space, the people inside and providing the proper elements for preparedness.

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