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What is the Facilities Managers Role in Keeping the Workplace Safe?

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on February 15, 2015

Facilities managers have a plethora of responsibilities on the job, which includes providing a safe work environment for all employees. No one should have to go into work and be met with safety hazards or violent employees. Unfortunately, such scenarios can and do occur, and are more likely to arise in the absence of a plan to both prevent and deal with workplace hazards and violence.

Facilities managers need to be prepared in the event of workplace hazards and threats.While it may be nearly impossible to prevent every single act of violence or safety hazard in the workplace, there are plenty of steps that FMs can take to help keep the work environment as safe and secure as possible for everyone involved.

Know Where All Your Employees Are at All Times

Keeping tabs on all employees has little to do with micro-managing and more to do with ensuring high levels of productivity and employee safety. Not knowing where a specific employee is at any given time can prove disastrous should he or she be faced with a perilous situation. When FMs know where staff is, they can be much more proactive at dealing with the situation at hand.

That's where cloud-based facility management software can come in handy. Such integrated workplace management systems allow FMs to monitor all processes and operations, particularly with the highly mobile workforce of today. Not only are these programs effective at lowering costs and providing automatic updates, they're also extremely helpful with disaster recovery and security.

Using Security Measures to Protect the Workplace

Crimes against employees and the workplace can significantly add to the cost of doing business for all types of businesses, big or small. There are decisions that employers and facilities managers can make about the building that can reduce the likelihood of crime on the workplace, including building security.

There are many types of security features that can be implemented in the building, such as:

• Security doors equipped with quality locks and dead bolts, especially in areas of the building that are out of public view

• Security alarm systems, including motion sensors, window and door alarms, and breaking glass detectors

• External lighting on all access points of the building and parking lots

• Security cameras connected to a video recording system and monitored by a security guard

• Key cards at all entry points designated strictly to those who are allowed in and out of the building

Dealing with Violence in the Workplace

Every once in a while a story will be reported in the news about an act of violence in the workplace. There have been plenty of cases of disgruntled employees walking into their place of work and harming or killing co-workers or employers. In fact, over700 employees are killed at work every year in the US. Even though violence in the workplace is an unregulated safety hazard, employers can still be held liable if it's discovered that no workplace violence program exists.

A safe and secure workplace is a happy one.Employers and managers need to be vigilant that random acts of violence can occur. Appropriate prevention steps and planning protective strategies can help lower these risks.

It all starts with proper training. Employers and facilities managers should be able to understand the signs of potential violent behavior in an employee. Combining prevention strategies with initiatives that are geared towards responding to incidents in their early stages can be an effective deterrent to violence in the workplace.

Problems can arise from negligent hiring, retention of sketchy employees and overall failure to protect the workplace. In order to avoid such problems, managers and human resources personnel need to use all tools afforded to them - the most important of which is information. Screening all applicants thoroughly will help to arm managers with information should a potential problem become known.

As effective as training and strategies can be, there simply is no guarantee against workplace violence. Even the most vigilant managers are faced with this issue. This is why it's imperative to have a response process established to help effectively deal with a violent scenario in order to prevent the violent situation from continuing to escalate. Such a process should be revisited and practiced regularly in order to ensure its efficacy.

Developing An Emergency Plan For The Workplace

Facilities managers can do plenty to prepare for the impact of disasters, which can include natural hazards such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. A planning process needs to be developed as soon as possible, and should involve an "all hazards" approach considering the many different threats that can occur in the workplace. Since the odds of a specific hazard impacting the workplace can be tough to determine, it's important to consider such threats and the likelihood that they will occur.

Once a plan has been devised, it needs to be implemented. This stage involves assessing resources, drafting up plans, developing a system to deal with incidents, and training all employees and management so they are able to execute these plans effectively. Ongoing tests and run-throughs of the plan should be exercised in order to ensure that all employees can follow through without a hitch. This allows FMs to evaluate whether or not the plan is effective enough to respond adequately to an emergency.

There are plenty of steps that facilities managers can take to ensure the utmost in safety and security in the workplace. This job can be a challenging one. Taking advantage of resources like facility management software can be a great way to maintain the highest level of control over the workplace and its employees.

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