We manage facilities in a dynamic and unpredictable world. Potential hazards can appear anywhere and cause injury even to an experienced worker. It is worthwhile to understand where facility managers should continuously focus on to make the most effective improvements for health and safety.
Potential hazards in a workplace create an unsafe circumstance that can increase the risk of injury. Technical cleaning and service workers rely on their training, experience and employer to keep them safe on the job. The fact is, even the most highly trained technicians are not above hazards in the workplace. This is a that topic remains relevant 24/7, 365 days a year.
In the United States alone, workplace injuries are estimated to cost businesses almost $62 billion in compensation claims. That’s about $1.19 billion per week. Dealing with unsafe workplaces is costly, and definitely an ongoing issue for businesses worldwide as present day. So how do we make them safer for all? Which areas in our facilities should we focus on to prevent potential hazards from existing in our workplaces?
A PROMISE TOWARDS SAFETY
It should be the goal of every facilities management team to prevent potential hazards from causing injury. In terms of TEAM Group’s commitment to the environment, safety and health, we are proud to say that our technicians continue to achieve success stories in sites throughout the world. With a strong focus on safety, an incident free workplace is possible with continuous improvement.
POTENTIAL HAZARDS: WHERE TO FOCUS
- Equipment with Moving Parts: Equipment is made of moving parts that may inevitably come apart in its life cycle. Scheduled maintenance is important for all machines, robots, paint booths etc. in your facility to prevent parts from falling out of place and causing a further breakdown of the machine, or injury to the operators.
- Sharp Objects: The term ‘sharps’ includes a medical device that has a sharp edge. Basically anything that can cut the skin such as scalpels or needles. But what about the less obvious sharp objects such as glass in containment areas? Windows seem harmless, but remember glass can shatter. Anyone who is exposed to a contaminated sharp are at risk of contracting infections from dirt, chemicals, or even bloodborne viruses. These should never be handled without proper PPE, and should be disposed of correctly in a way that contains the hazard and reduces exposure.
- Hot Objects: Think of anywhere that is ‘hot’ – welding areas, tunnels, paint booths. Take care to wear proper protective equipment in and around these areas, and to never remove PPE until you have completely exited the work area.
- Assembly Lines: Not only is there a hazard of getting caught in the assembly line or equipment, but repetitive stress injuries are another health and safety aspect here. This is because workers on assembly lines or manufacturing environments often conduct repetitive motions with a dominant side of the body (right or left handed) that can put a strain on the body overall. This is where the importance of breaks comes into play – both for mental and physical health.
- Slips and Falls: As the name indicates, a ‘slip and fall’ case will arise when an individual trips and sustains injuries. Facilities management technicians are constantly working in different areas and with various machinery and chemicals. It takes extra care to be alert and aware in a constantly changing, and new environment. A slip and fall accident can really occur anywhere: a recently polished floor, a dirty floor, getting in and out of a fleet vehicle, a pothole, or an icy surface.
Proper signage of slippery areas, workers wearing proper footwear with tread, and of course hardhats if required – is a good start to preventing slips and falls. Keeping your facility up to date in terms of maintenance can help prevent these potential hazards from appearing.
- An Aging Facility: The fact is that parts of buildings fall apart over time and can lead to more precarious safety conditions and the emergence of potential hazards. If things such as lighting and ventilation aren’t updated, or spaces aren’t updated to the code in aspects such as confined spaces / fumes etc. then
- Hazardous Chemicals: Risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals can happen through many forms. Even the ‘non dirty’ stuff can be harmful. Think of cleaning products: even they can be toxic with improper exposure. Always read and follow the label for use of products and strictly follow protocol for disposal.
- High Stress Environment – Mental Health: One of TEAM Group’s mandates – “My Safety begins with TEAM” is more than just a thought, it’s a mind-set. TEAM will not send technicians that aren’t equipped for the job at hand in terms of their hands-on training, and safety compliance standards. Being prepared for the job, and being able to carry it out correctly is important. We ensure each technician has completed specialized equipment training and supplemental training. The TEAM Group safety committee meets regularly to discuss ways to enhance safety, as do our senior manager meetings. This is also a space where workers can give feedback on toxic of combative co-workers. Working as a team is extremely important to us on all levels.
- Illnesses: Being in close quarters can help spread germs and bacteria between workers. Of course we have learned a lot about virus transmission these past couple of years, but our guards shouldn’t be let down now. Encourage employees to still use proper handwashing and sanitizing methods. If we all do our part to stay safe, there will be less people calling in sick or showing up sick at work.
OUR GROUND-BREAKING SAFETY BADGE PROGRAM
A Safety Badge Program was launched in 2016 to promote a positive and continuous improvement of safety culture. This involves a badge – which technicians wear proudly – that is a waterproof, retractable card with a QR code. When scanned via smartphone, the badge will direct to the employee’s training profile, where the commitment to service excellence is outlined as well as that technician’s history of completed training.
Our health and safety program requires TEAM Group technicians to have their badge on themselves while on the job. The Safety Badge Program, along with our continued commitment towards health and safety globally has allowed TEAM Group to act as a role model. This is a commitment to you – our clients, as well as to ourselves. Safety and transparency are some of our top priorities.
A NEED TO MANAGE FOR POTENTIAL HAZARDS
The businesses and facilities we run are dynamic places. Owners, managers and employees all do their best to stay on top of required maintenance and regulatory compliance. No one wants to be put at risk while on the job. It is normal to see that certain materials and parts will wear away, dislodge, fall, spill, and tear.
When something falls out of place or spills, a good facilities manager will be expected to clean it up in due time. This will greatly reduce the frequency and appearance of potential hazards. Every situation is of course unique – a hazardous or toxic substance may need special preparation or equipment to be handled safely. TEAM Group has many programs and protocols in place to prevent potential hazards from becoming serious.
BOOTS AND SAFETY ON THE GROUND
How do we keep our technicians safe on the ground and prevent slip and fall accidents? To stay on top of things, TEAM evaluates progress by using comprehensive safety reports (safety perception surveys) where information is collected to reveal the sense of our safety culture. These surveys have helped us reveal areas where increased efforts were needed for better shared practises, and a safer working environment overall.
There are many other programs that TEAM Group has in place such as operating systems and cleaning programs that ensure timely cleaning and spill checks in areas. We also use a multitude of software applications and technologies such as for solid documentation and data gathering for hot-zones and facility reconstruction. Corporate audits occur regularly.
Protective personal equipment (PPE) and proper safety shoes is a great method of preventing slip and fall accidents on the ground. Proper footwear is extremely important in this case, and the installation of slip resistant pathways in facilities is another great step forward.
TEAM Group will always strive to provide the best total facility maintenance and cleaning services. TEAM values safety as one of our very top priorities, so you can rest assured that you have partnered with the very best. We are committed to growing alongside you as the world changes and your business and needs evolve.