Business Safety: The Importance of the Proper Equipment
It's easy to overlook exit signs, exhaust fans, smoke detectors, and thermostats, but they play a role in keeping employees safe and should be treated and inspected like safety equipment.
No matter the size of your business, you need to consider all aspects of workplace safety. Ensuring the safety of your establishment is a simplified way of tending to your business duties without worrying about the technicalities of essential business equipment.
Emergency exit signs, exhaust fans, smoke detectors, and thermostats all contribute to a safe and comfortable workplaces. It is unlawful to have unsafe business conditions, thus it is important to ensure your business or establishment has all of this safety equipment and more.
Emergency Exit Signs
Emergency exit signs serve a very specific purpose. Having a visible exit sign is a clear, safe way to identify the way in and out of a structure or building.
According to OSHA, “each exit route must be adequately lighted so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route.” This is crucial in case of extreme emergencies such as a fire or when someone needs to leave a building quickly due to illness or injury.
(Learn more about Muster Points: How to Keep Your Team Safe During an Emergency.)
Emergency exit signs are typically white with green or red lights. OSHA also specifies that “each exit sign must be illuminated to a surface value of at least five foot-candles (54 lux) by a reliable light source and be distinctive in color. Self-luminous or electroluminescent signs that have a minimum luminance surface value of at least .06 footlamberts (0.21 cd/m2) are permitted.”
Exhaust fans play an important role in keeping rooms and spaces including kitchens, bathrooms, attics, and utility rooms comfortable from any extreme heat, moisture, or harsh food odors. The fans suck hot or humid air out of a concentrated area, and allow fresh air to enter from other areas.
Exhaust fans will help your business keep sanitary bathrooms by controlling mold and mildew buildup by providing ventilation. They will also help your business if certain sections of your establishment are warmer than others. The introduction of an exhaust fan will improve business safety.
OSHA requires that employees are safe from any lingering contaminants and that “all exhaust systems shall be provided with suitable dust collectors.”
Smoke detectors serve an obvious purpose. During fires, there is a very limited window of time to escape a building. Making sure you have the most up-to-date technology will improve the safety of your business and the safety of your customers and employees.
There are three main types of smoke detectors:
- Ionization Smoke Alarms: Best at detecting fast, flaming fires
- Photoelectric Smoke Alarms: Best at detecting smoky, smoldering fires
- Dual-Sensor Smoke Alarms: Combine both Ionization and Photoelectric alarms (it is still recommended to install separate carbon monoxide detectors)
It is recommended that the smoke detectors be interconnected so that if one detector goes off, they all do. They should be installed in all common areas of an establishment, and their batteries are to be fully charged.
Smoke detectors are not an option – they are a requirement! OSHA requires that all fire systems be checked regularly for functionality tests, and urge that they are free from any dust particles or wear and tear that may affect its functionality and accuracy.
Thermostats are important in business settings because they combat extreme heat or cold temperatures in the building. Productivity is shown to decrease when employees are not comfortable. Humans tend to expel more energy while trying to maintain comfortable body temperatures.
24-volt thermostats are recommended. They are considered the safest because they have the “ability to operate multiple electromechanical switching devices such as relays, contactors, and sequencers using inherently safe voltage and current levels.” Having functional thermostats will help keep your business productive and comfortable.
Although OSHA does not require a specific temperature to be kept in the workplace, they do suggest that the temperature ranges anywhere from 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. According to The Houston Chronicle, “OSHA regulations do kick in, however, when temperatures are so severe that they could lead to heat stress, hypothermia or other dangerous conditions. People who take medication are at greater risk for temperature-related health problems.”
(Learn about Workers and Heat Stress: What You Need to Know.)
Business Safety Matters
Business safety shows that owners take others into consideration and respect the lives of those they serve and those who serve them. It is important to take a few moments to observe the equipment in your building and make sure that it is functional and effective.
The Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 was created to assure safe conditions to working men and women and to encourage and support the States in promoting safe work environments. It is important to recognize the needs of creating and maintaining a safe business with well-designed emergency equipment such as those mentioned above.