Barry Eagle, managing director at GripClad, addresses the topic of workplace safety, focusing on reducing falls and increasing accessibility, as employees return to the workplace.
Providing safe workplaces.
Where are we now?
In a recent Labour Force Survey, responses showed that the largest proportion of non-fatal injuries were slips, trips or falls. As 6.3 million days are lost due to non-fatal workplace injuries, preventing injuries and widening access routes goes hand-in-hand.
Employees are beginning to return to the workplace and need buildings that are safe and accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability, so they can use the building and enjoy all of its features.
Where do we go next?
Post-lockdown, we want movement routes that are accessible. We need one-way systems to facilitate a sense of safety and security for employees as they move around the workplace.
Workplaces need to accommodate a changing workforce. There’s been an increase in people adopting a part-office, part-home approach which requires careful building planning.
How do we get there?
Approach your access routes and pathways with every building user in mind. With many employees returning to workplaces and awareness of accessible buildings growing, building managers should be reviewing their routes to ensure the transition is easy for everyone.
Decking can be used to widen outdoor pathways temporarily, as planks can be laid with ease, each one adding an extra step or two. Making sure these planks are slip-free and are grip-coated means you will mitigate the injury risks of wet weather. Consider waiting areas and queues as part of this. Do indoor routes need to be diverted outdoors to create space? Temporary pathways can be effective, but should be tested for slip risks with appropriate methods as they can become slippery in wet weather. Simple grip tape can create all-weather walkways.
Indoors, access routes need clear labelling and signage to make them safe and user-friendly. For narrow passageways, you will need to consider passing places and areas where people can give way to others. Labelling this clearly and communicating it to building users is key for a safe return to the workplace.
As employees are beginning to return to the office, mostly in a hybrid office approach, there is a greater need for wider pathways to accommodate teams coming in and out of the office, in a safe and socially distanced manner.
Barry Eagle is managing director at GripClad