What Is a Safe Work Environment?

A safe work environment prevents the spread of diseases, eliminates recognized hazards and meets safety regulations.

Employee safety has been the biggest concern for organizations of all sizes over previous decades. The COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified these concerns. 

Statistics from the Department of Labor depict vast change within the workplace, including: 

  1. 2.7 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses were reported in the private sector in the U.S. in 2020.
  2. Workplace illness cases increased from 127,200 cases in 2019 to 544,600 cases in 2020.
  3. Employer-reported respiratory illness cases increased by nearly 4000% from 2019 to 2020.

Organizations could have avoided many of these nonfatal injuries and illnesses if they had adopted the best practices for a secure environment and implemented safety manuals of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

This article provides an overview of the five best practices for workplace safety that every organization should implement to keep employees safe at the workplace.

Physical Security vs. Cybersecurity

Two major aspects exist when it comes to workplace security: physical security and cybersecurity.

  •  Physical security: Physical security refers to the preventive measures an organization takes to protect employees, facilities and equipment from getting injured, stolen or destroyed.
  • Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity refers to the practice of protecting electronic data from being stolen or destroyed.

Organizations should give equal priority to both these security aspects. A recent research study suggested breaches in physical security or cybersecurity can cost huge amounts of money:

  1. The global average cost of a data breach was $4.24 million.
  2. The average cost of a data breach in the United States was $9.05 million.
  3. The average cost of physical security compromise was $3.54 million.

To avoid such huge losses, organizations should implement access control systems that help monitor and protect both physical and digital assets.

5 Best Practices for Workplace Safety

Best practices such as creating a robust workplace safety plan, developing office security measures, unifying software systems with API integrations and implementing access control systems help organizations boost workplace safety.

1. Create a robust workplace security plan

Every organization is vulnerable to physical and cyber threats, which may include tailgating, identity theft, piggybacking, social engineering, unaccounted visitors, malware, ransomware, phishing and more. Since every organization is unique, physical and cyber security vulnerabilities vary from one organization to another.

The only way to identify these vulnerabilities is to conduct a risk assessment in regular intervals. Without assessing risks, organizations will fail to develop effective security plans. Workplace security should include policies that address potential risks.

For instance, the security plan of an educational institution should include emergency lockdown and active shooter procedures, including:

  1. Implementing a cloud-based access control system
  2. Integrating smart locks in a way that security teams can select the doors that should open or close automatically.
  3. Setting role-based permissions to override the lockdown plans. With these role-based permissions, exceptions can be made within the lockdown plan to allow law enforcement officials to enter into college premises and take control of the situation.  

2. Establish health programs and safety programs

Prevention is the best form of health. Business owners should establish health and safety programs to protect employees from contagious diseases, hazardous items and workplace injuries.

A health and security program provides safety guidelines, action plans and checklists that can make work environments safer and prevent mishaps:

  • Safety guidelines: Guidelines may include wearing protective equipment, reporting unsafe conditions, and using machines property.
  • Action plans: Action plans may include implementing an innovative security solution, offering safety training to employees,  and making every employee accountable for their safety. 
  • Checklists: Safety checklists are the documents used by frontline workers to identify and verify potential hazards.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations must follow safety procedures such as social distancing, frequent sanitization, and touchless business operations. This is where innovative solutions such as touchless visitor management systems and touchless access control systems help organizations follow guidelines and protect employees from contagious diseases.

A touchless visitor management system ensures that the employees don’t get infected by unknown people who visit the office. This system generates an entry QR code or a bar code for outsiders only after they fill out the health questionnaire, provide the purpose of visit, and upload documents of vaccination proof. This solution makes contact tracing easier for organizations and enables them to deal effectively with pandemics like COVID-19.  

Organizations can also create touchless workspaces by implementing technologies like Mobile Access Control that eliminates the need for physically touching doors while moving in and around the office.

3. Buildout office security measures

Organizations should imbibe physical and cybersecurity into the organization’s culture. Human resource teams should schedule safety training programs in regular intervals to equip employees with sufficient knowledge on:

  1. Dealing with emergencies.
  2. Handling hazardous items.
  3. Reporting hazardous conditions to relevant authorities at the right time.
  4. Whistleblowing procedures.
  5. Occupational health guidelines.

The training goes a long way to help employees prepare for emergencies and deal with occupational safety issues.

Furthermore, video management systems are a helpful tool to increase security in the workplace. IT teams should protect server rooms, electrical closets, and other personal spaces with the help of IoT devices such as smart sensors, AI-enabled security cameras, and video management tools as unauthorized entry into these spaces could prove costly to the organization.

4. Unify Software Systems with API Integrations

Organizations use different types of software systems, innovative solutions, and security tools to protect human, physical, and digital resources at the workplace. However, the existing IT infrastructure may not be sufficient to protect the sensitive data that organizations use for informed decision-making. IT teams should actively look out for third-party applications that can easily be integrated into the existing IT infrastructure to protect sensitive information.

Here is a list of API integrations IT teams should consider implementing to create a secure workplace:

  • Video Management: Integrated access control and video management enables security teams to sync AI-enabled video surveillance cameras to the access control system with an API token. This API integration triggers a warning when unauthorized door access events occur.
  •  Identity Management: Integrated access control and identity management enables the security teams to give role-based permissions for employees and deactivate access rights for former employees immediately after their resignation is accepted.

5. Implement a great access control system

A cloud-based access control system can overhaul the entire security system of office buildings. It provides a centralized dashboard where security teams can manage both the physical security and cybersecurity of the organization.  

By implementing a cloud-based access control system, security teams can do the following activities with ease:

  1. Assign physical key fobs or mobile keys that streamline the entry and exit of employees.
  2. Assign role-based access permissions to employees to restrict unauthorized employees from accessing sensitive information like intellectual property.
  3. Add, activate, deactivate, and remove access rights of employees with a single mouse click.
  4. Monitor access activities of all employees in real-time.
  5.  Integrate APIs for visitor management, critical event management, elevator controls, and single sign-on (SSO).

Genea is Here to Help

Organizations should not leave the workplace vulnerable to physical and cyber threats. The lack of security procedures not only ruins the reputation of the organization but also costs hugely in terms of data loss and productivity loss. Implementing a cloud-based access control system can eliminate most of these security threats and save a lot of money for organizations.  

If your organization is fighting against frightening physical and cyber threats, you may need to look into Modern Access Control Solution from Genea that can help manage your entire workplace security from a centralized dashboard.

Leaders across industries such as healthcare, education, commercial real estate, and retail have implemented Genea’s innovative solutions such as cloud-based access control, mobile access control, a touchless visitor management system, and innovative API integrations for visitor management, single sign-on, and critical event management to streamline their security operations.

Learn more about how Modern Access Control Solutions from Genea can help you create a secure work environment that meets regulatory standards and improves the wellbeing of employees.

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