So much of workplace safety is about preventing injury and emergencies, but there's a lot to be said for being prepared for what you can't prevent, too—weather is one of the big risks that's far out of our control, no matter how much we wish otherwise.
We surveyed hundreds of workers and decision makers about office safety and found that 48% of workers and 62% of business decision makers were expected to show up to work during inclement weather, and nearly half them felt unsafe doing so. It's a difficult problem to solve—after all, just because the weather's bad doesn't mean work stops. So what can businesses do to make sure they're looking out for their #1 asset—their workers? Here are a few things decision makers can do to promote safety when the weather gets wild:
- Create standards related to monitoring weather forecasts and communicating risks to employees. Determine who is responsible for monitoring the forecasts and create communications to use in relevant situations. Include tips for safe travel and seasonal preparation.
- Establish criteria for office closure. 28% of workers say that in the case of an office closure, they're notified at the last minute or not at all. It may make sense for your business to follow local authorities' lead on this, but in some cases, states of emergency aren't declared until after employees are already in the office.
- Determine what business critical needs must be met regardless of weather. Are there things that must happen for your business to maintain uninterrupted? Who will continue these operations in case of office shutdown?
- Work with management to determine what staff is able to work remotely. Nearly half of workers say they don't have the necessary tools enabling them to work from home in case of office closures, and the number of workers who have these tools is actually the lowest in the Midwest and Northeast—the two regions most likely to experience severe winters.
- Stock up. If and when employees need to come into the office, your premises must be safe once they get there. Be prepared with things like ice melt and proper matting systems, as well as any equipment or services needed to clean parking lots and garages. In times of severe heat, be prepared to keep your outdoor teams hydrated, cool and healthy.
- With all of these initiatives, it's crucial that you have buy-in from management and that you educate them on the various challenges and risks inherent on continuing to do business in inclement weather.