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Fire Safety Tips for Your Business

Bookmark and Share A fire in your business can quickly destroy your inventory, computer equipment and other assets. A fire also threatens your employees' lives. Reduce your fire risk and be sure everyone gets out safely when you follow several fire safety tips.

Provide Two Exits

Your business should provide at least two exits. They must unobstructed and clearly marked and labeled at all times.

Create a Detailed Evacuation Plan

It's not enough to tell employees that they should escape from a burning building. You also need a detailed evacuation plan. It clearly marks the exact escape routes from anywhere on your property, including the number of steps to each exit, an important safety precaution if visibility is limited. Post the plan in prominent places around your building.

Practice Escaping the Building

Even the most detailed evacuation plan is worthless if you don't practice it. Schedule frequent drills to ensure all your staff can escape safely no matter where they happen to be when a fire starts. Remember to make provisions for rescuing disabled workers and visitors, too, and assign someone to perform a headcount after the evacuation.

Install a Fire Suppression System

Many businesses need a fire suppression system in place before they can open. If your business doesn't have this safety measure, consider implementing it. The system will activate and release fire-suppressing chemicals when the temperature rises, and they will also turn on if the emergency switch is turned on. Be sure to test your fire suppression system regularly to ensure it works properly.

Purchase Fire Extinguishers

Purchase and strategically place fire extinguishers throughout your building. Provide training to employees so that everyone knows how to operate an extinguisher if necessary.

Reduce Fire Hazards

There are several things you can do to reduce your fire hazards.
  • Designate a smoking area away from flammable objects. Provide proper cigarette butt disposals.

  • Remove paper, trash and other flammable items.

  • Give electrical equipment, including computers and other office equipment, adequate breathing room so they do not overheat.

  • Do not overload circuits.

  • Limit the use of extension cords.

  • Don't bend or crush electrical cords.

  • Unplug appliances when they're not being used.

  • Use, store and dispose of hazardous materials, including cleaning chemicals, safely.

  • Report all fire hazards to maintenance immediately and encourage your staff members to do the same.
Never Ignore a Fire Alarm

Even if you suspect that the alarm is false, treat it as a real fire. Be sure your staff takes alarms seriously, too.

Fire safety is important. Follow these tips and discuss other safety strategies with your insurance agent. He or she will ensure you have adequate insurance coverage and assist you in maintaining a safe work environment.

Crime Prevention Strategies for Your Retail Store

Bookmark and Share The success of your retail store requires a variety of crime prevention strategies. You can't afford to lose inventory or customers because your store is a popular target for thieves. Protect your store, employees and inventory with these tips.

Analyze Your Problems

Every business faces different crime risks. Analyze your property, employee training and community crime statistics as you determine which crime prevention strategies you need.

Train Employees

Your employees are on the front line of crime prevention. They should know basic emergency procedures and understand the importance of greeting customers, maintaining eye contact, moving away from the cash register whenever possible and confronting loiterers.

Make Friends With the Local Police

Law enforcement can partner with you to prevent crime as they perform regular patrols near or in your business. They can also train your staff how to notice details of crimes and respond to crime emergencies and evaluate security weaknesses on your premises.

Clear the Clutter

An unobstructed view of your store's entrance allows employees to see who comes in and goes out. Clear the clutter from your store aisles, too, to improve visibility at all times.

Use Natural Surveillance

Instead of covering your front windows, keep them clear. This strategy allows passers-by and police to see inside your store and note any suspicious activity.

Install Lighting

Indoor and outdoor lighting prevents crime. Remember to install vandal-proof bulbs and power covers, too.

Control Access

Criminals are lazy and want to get in and out of a business quickly. Consider the number of doors and their locations and material plus your interior design as you seek to prevent crime. Install fencing or bushes by alleys, too, as you limit a criminal's escape route.

Limit Cash

By limiting the cash you have on hand, you can cut robberies by 80 percent. Empty the cash register often, use a drop box and post signs about limited cash to deter robberies.

Prohibit Loitering

This strategy reduces the potential for robberies in your store.

Install Cameras

Improve your ability to catch criminals when you install surveillance cameras. They can monitor the front door, cash register and other high traffic areas.

Implement Security Strategies ASAP

Research shows that incarcerated robbers doubt that victimized businesses install crime preventive measures. Prove them wrong when you implement security strategies immediately.

Reevaluate Regularly

Crime statistics change regularly, and your crime prevention strategies should too. At least once a year, evaluate your neighborhood and threats as you continuously protect your business.
Purchase Adequate Insurance

Insurance won't prevent crime, but it will help you recover your losses after a crime. It also gives you peace of mind that you have done your part in protecting your inventory and staff.

How to Get Employees to Prioritize Safety

Bookmark and Share Do your employees expect you or a manager to take care of all the safety details? As the CEO of a small business, you are 100 percent responsible for workplace safety, but safety has to be everyone's priority. Get your employees on board in several ways.
  1. Make safety part of your employee contract.

    New employees should understand from the beginning that they are responsible to follow safety protocols and precautions. This way, everyone is on the same page, understands their role in safety compliance and doesn't feel called out if they fail to follow the safety rules.

  2. Share safety statistics and facts.

    Employees may take safety more seriously when they understand the risks they face. Share injury and illness statistics regularly, and be honest about the risks associated with unsafe practices.

  3. Offer training.

    Unsafe acts of workers cause 88 percent of all accidents. Make sure your employees know how to do their jobs safely, and maintain training records. Offer ongoing training when an employee changes jobs, if you update procedures, as required by law, after an employee's extended leave and as needed.

  4. Add safety inspections to job descriptions.

    Employees who perform safety inspections in their workstations every day are more likely to prioritize safety. Remind your staff that you and all the managers are monitoring employees and safety precautions daily, too.

  5. Establish a reporting system.

    When employees see potential hazards, close calls, injuries or illnesses, they should report them. Be sure everyone knows the procedure for keeping the workplace safe and healthy.

  6. Inform employees of safety inspections.

    You and your safety manger should not be the only people who know the details of safety inspections. Everyone should help to prepare for OSHA inspections and regular inspections you perform.

  7. Hold employees accountable.

    Chances are high that your employees will pay more attention to safety if they know that they're accountable. Set up a rewards system to encourage employees to follow safety precautions, and recognize workers who achieve so many accident-free days on the job. Make safety part of the performance reviews, too. If necessary, discipline employees who behave in a manner that's harmful to themselves or others.

  8. Take employee feedback seriously.

    If your employees share a safety hazard or concern, don't brush it off. Inspect the concern and find a solution no matter what the cost. Your favorable response to complaints shows that you value your employees and encourages ongoing cooperation.
Safety comes first, and your employees can partner with you to create a safe workplace environment. Use these tips and talk to your insurance agent for more information on keeping your business safe for everyone.

Tips for Choosing a Security System for Your Building

Bookmark and Share Keeping your building secure is important for your business. You can't afford to lose valuable inventory, equipment or data. When choosing a security system, your options vary, so consider several tips as you select the system that works for your business.

Employ Security Guards

During the day and overnight, you could hire security guards to patrol your property and look for suspicious behavior. They can use a mixture of physical patrols and virtual monitoring depending on the size of your property, its location and your business type. You may contract with a security company or hire guards directly.

Erect a Perimeter Fence

A large fence keeps unwanted snoopers out and protects your employees, customers and inventory. Select one with visual appeal that does not inhibit visibility for security personnel, and choose an entry access, such as lock and key or electronic keypad, that's convenient for everyone.

Install a Lighting System

Be sure all areas of your property, including doors, windows and gates, are well lit. A lighting system protects visitors and employees from tripping and allows you to see intruders. Remember to use vandal-proof covers over the lights and power sources.

Choose an Alarm System

A variety of alarms protect your property from different threats. Consider installing burglar alarms and fire alarms as well as a surveillance system. Talk to industry professionals as you customize the alarms that work best for your business.

Protect Data

Sensitive data, including customer information and sales data, must be protected or you could face hefty fines and even jail time. Store hard copies of important papers in a fireproof safe. Other information should be stored in a secure network off premises.

Write a Security Policy

Your business should have a security policy that details the security measures your business takes and how you plan to keep information, inventory, employees and customers safe. The policy also addresses topics like who is welcome on the property and how to report a theft.

Promote Responsibility and a Safety Culture With Employees

Every person on your team should support safety awareness and be responsible to do his or her part. That includes locking doors, protecting client data and notifying the safety manager about potential threats.

Update Your Insurance Coverage

After your security system is in place, contact your insurance agent. Be sure your property is covered with general liability, Workers' Compensation and other protective coverage. Your agent will assist you in selecting the right types and amounts of insurance for your specific business as you prioritize security.