Safety in the Workplace: A Leader’s Responsibility – Ryan Ayers

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As a leader, you have many responsibilities and many privileges. Depending on your industry, you may not have thought about the responsibility you have for your team’s safety. In dangerous environments, workers and leadership alike are typically well-versed in safety protocols, and are on the alert for emergencies. If you work in an office or other low-risk environment, however, you may not have given the issue much thought. Your employees are adults, but as a leader, your responsibility is to do your best to ensure everyone’s safety in an emergency. Of course, ideally you’d never be put in the situation of needing to manage an emergency situation, but the longer you lead, the more likely it is to happen. Here’s what you need to remember about your safety responsibilities.

Accidents Happen

Even when your employees are sitting at their desks all day, accidents can happen. People can choke, have heart attacks, or injure themselves in nearly any environment. Knowing how to respond to a medical emergency can mean the difference between life and death. Be prepared for an accident by knowing the warning signs of a medical emergency so you can call an ambulance if necessary.

It’s also important to know which medical facilities are closest to you—and how well those hospitals perform. Every hospital has a “grade” of A to F, and facilities with grades lower than A have a 9-50% higher risk of avoidable death. Knowing which hospitals nearby are more reputable than others can help you ensure your employees get the best care possible in an emergency.

Educate Yourself & Keep Supplies Handy

If someone is choking, and you don’t know how to assist, you can do little else but call for help and hope it arrives in time. If someone cuts themselves, and you don’t have anything to control the bleeding, they could lose a great deal of blood before making it to the hospital. As a leader, it’s worth learning techniques like the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and basic first aid, even if your employer doesn’t require it. You should also keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand in case it is needed. Sure, you might never use it for anything but paper cuts, but the point is that you never know when you’ll need it.

Discuss Safety Protocols

Fire drills may cause your team to roll their eyes and stroll down the stairs, but should an actual fire break out, these protocols are essential. About seven people die in home fires every day in the United States, and if you work in a large building on a high floor, quick evacuation can make a big difference. Be sure to emphasize the importance of building safety protocols, and become very familiar with the emergency escape routes your team might have to use in an emergency. Be sure to consider your response to other possible emergencies as well, such as a bomb threat, a storm, or an earthquake.

Monitor Morale

Keeping your employees safe isn’t just about managing risk and taking charge in an emergency. For the most part, it’s best not to get involved in the relationships between your employees, but you should be keeping an eye on morale and ensuring that your employees are not working in a hostile environment. Bullying is more common than you’d think, and while more people feel bullied by their bosses than their coworkers, the 2017 Workplace Bullying Institute statistics show that 33% of people surveyed had been bullied by their coworkers. Abusive conduct has an effect on morale, productivity, and the well-being of employees, and it is important for leaders to be on the lookout for bullying behavior so it can be addressed.

Managing Your Emotions

Perhaps one of the most important ways you can manage a crisis is by remaining calm and level-headed. Medical emergencies and disasters like fire and earthquakes can cause people to panic, so having self-care skills will allow you to step in and deal with the situation logically will help ensure everyone’s safety. Preparing your team for potential emergencies in the same way will help everyone work together to solve the problem. Remember: as a leader, your job is to prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Your team’s safety depends on it.