In spite of extraordinary events that occasionally dominate the news, the American workplace is by and large a safe place to be. Most of us take for granted that the incidence of negative events is low and don’t give a thought to preparedness or prevention. However, that might not be the wisest course of action.
Regardless of where your office is located, you might consider assembling an emergency kit if your work place doesn’t already have one. Weather contingencies, chemical spills and other unforeseen events can happen virtually anywhere and it’s possible that a few basic emergency supplies such as a flashlight and walking shoes could come in handy. Store them in a desk drawer or cabinet along with a spare water bottle and perhaps some non-perishable food.
In addition to disaster preparedness, pay attention to your environment. Report areas of the building that are not well-lit and note any differences in windows or doors that might indicate attempts at intrusion. If you find it necessary to stay late at the office, consider establishing a buddy system and walk with a colleague to your car. If that’s not possible, be sure to phone a friend or family member when you leave the building.
You should also familiarize yourself with your company’s emergency plan. If one doesn’t exist, volunteer to help create one. Ideally, co-workers from all levels of the organization should be involved. Set up a procedure to warn employees about an event and designate an away from the workplace telephone number that employees can phone to indicate they are okay. Alternatively, consider setting up a password protected page on your website for that purpose.
Also, plan and practice what you would do in an emergency. Designate an evacuation route and design a shelter-in-place contingency in the event that leaving the building becomes impossible.