Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Creating a Safety Program

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Creating a Safety Program

Article excerpt

Your maintenance person works ten feet above the ground without being secured to a ladder, and you pay a $10,000 fine. Your groundskeeper hurts her back by incorrectly picking up a heavy shrub, and your workers compensation premium jumps by 20 percent for the next three years. Your housekeeper does not put out a warning sign on the newly mopped lobby floor, and you lose revenues when your best leasing agent slips and spends two weeks in bed.

Just the breaks of the business? Not if you can help it. And you can if you have an effective safety program in place.

Need some help? Everyone knows that states offer workers accident insurance and monitor and free companies that do not comply with safe working practices. What you may not realize is that these same bureaucrats will also offer to help you develop a practical safety program. In fact, the process of developing a reasonable safety strategy acceptable to your state agency does not have to be time consuming or costly.

Getting Started

The first step is to raise your employees' awareness of safety. We accomplished this by inviting a state safety inspector as a guest speaker for an all-employee meeting. As the inspector elaborated on the rules and the fines, you could almost hear our employees mouthing, "Holy smoke."

The next step to improved safety is to actively involve employees in developing the safety program. Our company formed a safety committee composed of volunteers representing office and maintenance personnel from every property and from the home office.

The group was given state-published guidelines to help identify the specific safety concerns in their work areas. These guidelines addressed how to prepare a safety program, general and task-related job safety, and medical and first aid issues.

Issues addressed by each committee included:

General procedures

* Safety goals

* Employee responsibilities

* How to report injuries and unsafe practices

* First aid and CPR education

* Handling emergencies

* How and when to report emergencies

Operating safety

* Use of protective gear

* Operation and storage of hand and power tools, including ladders

* Operation of office equipment, including VDT and ergonomic furniture

* Operation and safety of company vehicles

* Slip and fall and muscle strain prevention

* Handling, storage, and documentation of hazardous chemicals

* Fire prevention and building safety

* How to handle exposures to blood-borne pathogens

* Substance and prescription drug abuse

[TABULAR DATA FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Our safety group met for one hour each month for six months to discuss the issues, review state-recommended practices, and customize the program for our company and properties. …

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