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As an employer, you have a big responsibility to look after the health of your employees. And, even if you are a heartless boss who cares little for your worker’s ills, it makes a lot of sense to promote a healthy office or workplace.
Ultimately, sickness costs you money, either from time off work or what is known as ‘presenteeism.’ And it’s a big issue. Workforce illness costs a staggering $225.8 billion every year in the USA – and even more when you consider the effect it has on worker productivity when ill at their desks. Can you afford to contribute a lot to that figure?
With this in mind, we thought we would take some time to highlight some of the biggest health hazards going in every workplace. Let’s take a closer look – and we hope you will be able to use this checklist in your workplace to improve your employee’s health.
Colds, flu, viral infections and the like are a big issue for anyone who owns a business. And while they might not be the scariest or debilitating of illnesses, the simple truth is that you just can’t be as productive as you want when you come down with one of them. They are also infectious, meaning everyone that has one of these illnesses is liable to spread it to the rest of your workforce. So, if you are the type of boss who demands their employees attend work even when they feel like they are on death’s door, be wary. An outbreak spreading through your business like a wildfire could have serious repercussions.
Slips, trips, and falls
Slips, trips, and falls are the number one cause of injuries at work. And the sad thing is that they are entirely preventable. All it takes is regular safety training, and to weave the concept of tidying up and leaving gangways clear into your company culture. If you are in the construction business, you also have to bear in mind that these types of accident are the biggest cause of fatalities, too. And, if you are found to be at fault because you didn’t take your safety responsibilities seriously, it could cost you your business.
A small fire can create chaos in the workplace – and disaster. Again, the vast majority of fires are preventable, and there is little excuse for an employer to avoid the basic housekeeping that is so necessary for fire prevention. Make sure that everything flammable is stored away in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. You should also keep all firefighting equipment – such as fire hoses – maintained and within their use by dates. Ensure your staff know what they need to do in the event of a fire, too, and have regular drills that can help them act calmly and confidently when a real event occurs.
Every electrical socket and power point in your building is a massive health risk and one that you need to take very seriously. All of them have the ability to kill, and any accident involving electricity is more likely to end with a fatality than not. Regular maintenance is essential, and every piece of electrical equipment you use in the workplace needs to be tested for safety on a regular basis. Make sure you are educating your employees about the dangers of electricity – some may not realize, and you have to ensure everyone is aware.
Heating and air conditioning systems are essential to keep employees comfortable during hot summers and cold winters. But they need a lot of looking after. Failure to clean and maintain your HVAC system will result in a buildup of dust and bacteria, which can create havoc in the workplace. Airborne illnesses, allergies, and agitators of breathing conditions can all be present, meaning more people off sick, or less productive at their desks. It’s the filters that are the primary problem, so replace them with something similar to Filter Guru HVAC Filters, and you should improve the air quality in your offices by a significant amount. People will work easier, and they will take fewer days off sick during the year. For such a small investment, it has to be worth it.
Do you push your staff so hard that they feel they need to eat lunch at their desks? If so, you could be harming their health. Desktops in offices are one of the biggest sources of nasty bugs and bacteria – even more so than your restroom facilities. Toilets and sinks get bleached every day; desktops do not. And offices that aren’t cleaned properly can harbor everything from E.coli to Staphylococcus aureus. The simple truth is that the average work desk contains over 10 million bacteria at any given moment unless you and your employees take greater care in cleaning them.
An unhappy workforce
If your employees aren’t content at work, it opens up a world full of trouble. Unhappiness means they will be closer to the edge and given one of the top ten health hazards in American workplaces are violent incidents, you don’t have to be a genius to work out what might happen. Unhappy people are also more stressed, which leads to health problems such as high blood pressure – and, maybe, stroke. And, it also means that your employees will have trouble sleeping – and a tired workforce makes more simple mistakes, leading to more accidents occurring.
Chemicals and cleaning products
All businesses use dangerous chemicals – they are present in almost every cleaning product you can think of. But where there are chemicals, there are also fumes, vapors, and hazardous solvents – all of which can have serious repercussions on anyone who is nearby and not taking the necessary precautions. Burns, severe skin irritation and everything in between can leave people in a very sorry state – and you as the employer could be to blame. Make sure that all chemicals are stored away safely, and that anyone uses them wears protective equipment and clothing.
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