Workplace safety starts with making sure that employees are enforcing safety procedures. This includes everyone from superintendents to principals, teachers, food service staff, and bus drivers.
Teaching and administrative staff
Teachers and administrative staff help set the expectations for campus and workplace safety. There are many ways that teachers and administrators can help provide a safe work environment and prevent injuries. Ensure emergency exit paths are posted in each classroom. Keep them neat and orderly for quick, easy, and safe passage.
Teachers may want to decorate classrooms and instructional areas at the beginning of the school year to provide engaging environments for students. Make sure decorations are installed safely.
- Provide step ladders for all instructional and administrative staff and train them to recognize that chairs and desks are not to be used as ladders.
- Limit the amount the walls that are covered with flammable materials, such as posters, flyers or other paper décor to no more than 20 percent.
- Prohibit the use of open flames such as candles in the classroom.
Workshops, science laboratories and other specialized areas can contain potential hazards. Communicate with staff who are responsible for overseeing those areas about safe practices throughout the year.
- Keep personal protective equipment (lab coats, aprons, goggles, gloves, etc.) clean and accessible in areas where specialty instruction is provided. Have rules of conduct for the rooms and updated Safety Data Sheets clearly displayed.
- Keep workshop classroom equipment clean and check to make sure hazardous or moving parts are covered when not in use.
- Explain practices and procedures that protect people from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment to all students and teachers.
- Remove cords with missing ground prongs and extension cords being used as permanent sources of electricity, as they are all hazards that could lead to an electrical fire.
Food service staff
With kitchens being one of the most common locations for fires and a high traffic area, it is important to keep safety a priority and make sure your food service staff is enforcing workplace safety precautions. From storage to training, there are areas to focus on for the safest cafeteria environments, keeping staff and students safe:
- Store larger items on lower levels to avoid accidents from falling objects.
- Train cafeteria staff to lift in teams when larger, heavier items need to be picked up and moved.
- Observe the flow of traffic in the kitchen to ensure equipment and cooking tools are easily accessible and clean.
- Check door seals and liners on walk-in freezers and refrigerators to ensure a tight fit and that they are without air leaks or cracks. This will also prevent buildup of moisture and ice in high humidity environments.
- Check freezer and refrigerator coils to ensure there is no ice buildup and that the correct temperature is maintained.
Transportation, maintenance, and operations staff
Transportation, maintenance, and operation staff have very important roles, as they work to maintain the vehicles and buildings that house and transport students and staff. Below are some best practices for these staff members to keep in mind:
- Everyone should wear and use proper personal protective equipment and receive training in lifting, chemical handling, fire safety, and the use of other equipment.
- Proper footwear is extremely important when working with heavy machinery. Strictly enforce dress codes to ensure safety in these areas.
- Unauthorized staff and visitors should be prohibited from areas with heavy machinery.
- Employees who are not feeling well or are not fit for duty should not drive or work with heavy equipment. They should also tell their supervisors if they are taking any medication that may impair their level of alertness or judgment.
- Fire extinguishers should be displayed in open and obvious areas and have a rating appropriate for the fire hazards found in these work areas.
Better organization in shop areas means a safer workplace, so keep work areas orderly and clean. If you have any safety-related questions or want to know more about the resources available to you, contact your risk solutions consultant
Editor's note: This article was originally published in September 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.