Companies should always be applying substantial time and resources to the protection of workers on their jobsites. But what about the safety and well-being of the general public that may come in contact with your business?
Whether you’re in an office building or on a construction site, your business operation will likely have either direct visitors to your location, neighbouring businesses or homes that need to be considered, or close-by pedestrian or vehicular traffic. The planning and execution of safety policies and programs needs to be as strict for those around your business as it is for those that work within it. From facility maintenance to fire protection, it’s your responsibility to protect the public wherever possible.
Public safety for businesses encompasses a variety of elements that must be addressed in order to maintain the safest workplace possible.
- As part of your planning strategy, include safety policies and guidelines for any emergency situation, including the surrounding area. Depending on the nature of your business (construction / mining / manufacturing / oil & gas etc.), try to consider every potential risk that could affect others.
For the complete SafetyLink article on emergency planning, click here.
- Establish a public safety team or sub-committee that is responsible for developing and enforcing policies and procedures
Contact local authorities to ensure that your operation is in compliance with codes and standards for:
- Buildings & structures
- Plumbing / sewage
- Elevators / escalators
- Heavy equipment use
- Snow removal / property maintenance
- Ensure that you have comprehensive permit coverage for all activities that include building, digging or vehicular traffic
- Establish, training, communications, inspection and reporting protocols that specifically address public safety issues
Public Safety Considerations
There are any number of incidents that could lead to potential risks for visitors to your job site or those in close vicinity. These could come from human error, poor site maintenance, unforeseen accidents, natural disasters or the results of day-to-day operations. Establishing as comprehensive a safety program as possible, will help to minimize risks across all areas.
Ensure that your facility is properly maintained to reduce avoidable accidents such as slips and falls. Areas to focus on would include:
- Flooring, walkways, parking areas and access road conditions
- General housekeeping to remove clutter & debris
- Overall lighting for visibility
- Ice & snow removal
- Handrails for stairways & ramps
- Handicapped accessibility
- Follow strict guidelines as established by local authorities if your business uses flammable, combustible or other hazardous materials
- Comply with regulations regarding local air quality in terms of exhaust emissions, gas venting, noxious vapours and dust etc.
- Account for potentially explosive facility elements that could affect a wide area. This could include boilers, pressure vessels, compressed gasses etc.
- Maintain all necessary safety and emergency control equipment to account for fire, and explosions, medical first response, evacuation and chemical or petroleum leaks and spills
- Depending on the nature and location of your business, account for the potential effect of natural disasters (tornados, earthquakes, flooding, severe storms) that could cause operational, structural or safety failures within your facility
- Ensure that waste is securely disposed of so as not to pose a risk to the surrounding area. This would be particularly important for hazardous materials, medical waste or anything else that might prove dangerous.
- If heavy equipment is in use, follow all guidelines for road safety, overhanging public spaces (cranes), the use of spotters and traffic control personnel
- Make sure that the use of any elevated structures (e.g. within construction sites or drilling operations etc.) meet standards for structural integrity and provide adequate protection from falling objects
- Post adequate public warning signs for any potential risk to nearby pedestrian or vehicular traffic
- Provide any necessary security measures and personnel to restrict access to areas that may be dangerous to the public
- Strictly control jobsite access to authorized visitors and vendors only. Also ensure that all necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn properly, that direct escorts are used where necessary and that visitors remain within designated areas.
A public safety program is like any other part of your overall strategy for emergency risk management. Ideally, you’ll never have to rely on it, but you never want to be in a situation where you’re not prepared.