Tips for Effective Workplace Emergency Response and Evacuation Plans

There are so many different reasons why you need an emergency response and evacuation plan. For instance, while hurricanes can be anticipated, earthquakes usually can’t, which is why, if you’re at work at the moment, you would have to evacuate. In some workplaces, there are various hazardous substances used as materials in production. A major leak or contamination might also be a valid reason for evacuation. Then, there’s always the probability of fire or a public safety threat that comes in multiple categories. For all of these reasons, you need to be ready to act in order to save both lives and property. So, here are several tips for workplace emergency response and evacuation.

Natural disasters

When it comes to natural disasters, there are two major groups for you to consider. There are those that are easy to predict and those that are not. For instance, while floods and wildfires don’t gain massive proportions overnight, they might accelerate at the unprecedented pace, which might create a scenario in which you have to evacuate. A major heatwave, on the other hand, can be predicted and, if you determine that such a thing could pose as a health hazard, you can prevent the need for evacuation by simply giving everyone a day off. Sure, some may see this as a net loss for a company, yet, the ramifications of ignoring such a major threat are much worse.

Electrical and fire emergencies

While the probability of fire is something that can’t be ruled out even in the safest of the environments, there are some risk points which, if tended to, might make your office much more resistant to it. For instance, an untidy and cluttered office may not increase the chance of a fire hazard spawning but it could greatly accelerate the pace at which it advances. Combustible materials on the premises are yet another hazard but the greatest thread for your office safety, by far, is faulty equipment or a mistake on your electrical grid. This is why you need to have an emergency electrician on a speed-dial. Blown fuses, corroded wiring and tripped circuit breakers are just some of the potential hazards that could become a major problem, further down the line. On the other hand, sometimes the misuse of your electrical grid is the biggest problem. We’re talking about the scenario where extension cords and power points are overloaded. Either way, you could benefit greatly even from a simple assessment of the situation. Even if, at the moment, you don’t see the issue.

The leak of contaminated material

The biggest problem that could occur within your workplace is probably a leak or contamination by hazardous materials, which is probably the most important reason why you need an emergency response protocol in the first place. Saving lives comes first – however, this is a situation that can’t just pass on its own. With a public safety threat or a natural disaster, the threat will pass (eventually), whereas here, the area needs to be quarantined and cleansed. The best course of action, nonetheless, is to prevent this from ever happening. Instruct your employees on how to behave around these materials. Label everything properly and invest in chemical storage cabinets.

Public safety threats

Previously, we’ve discussed the probability of a public safety threat and they come in four major categories. First, you have a direct threat, where a target is announced in a clear and direct manner. These could sometimes be false and aimed towards making people panic, but it’s still never wise to ignore them. Then, you have an indirect threat. These can be much more dangerous, seeing as how the time and place of the attack tend to be vague. You’re left to guess where it’s going to happen, which might make you be in a state of raised alertness but not as ready to act. Then, there a veiled threat, which most often serves as a warning. It doesn’t even have to imply violence or hazardous misbehavior, yet, it’s never wise to ignore it altogether. Finally, there’s the conditional threat, which, out of the four, is probably the easiest one to predict. Either way, the group, organization or an individual that stands behind them is never a reliable factor in this situation. As we already said, they might just be inciting panic and there’s no guarantee that they will stick to the plan (it could all be just a decoy).

The evacuation plan itself depends on the layout and location of the office, the number of people on your staff and the rest of the safety measures installed in the place. However, it’s much easier, not to mention more efficient, to prepare the place and staff if you have a specific threat in mind. Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t prepare your team for every potential outcome. Still, by anticipating these four threats, you can already make a huge leap in the right direction.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

Don’t Waste Space: Why Businesses Need to Invest in Their Outdoor Common Areas

In business, you are always trying to compete with everyone else in your market, and that means finding better ways to make use of the resources you have. That way, you can attract more investment, increase cash flow, and create more customer and employee happiness. One of the things that you need to have focus and attention on is your outdoor communal space. Letting it sit there can be more than just wasteful, it can be damaging to your company’s image and security. Leverage it in the following ways.

Create Common Space for Employee Morale 

An outdoor green space is a beautiful sight to see, especially when all you see every day is the cubicle walls of your office. Creating a common area with green lawns and decorative plants gives your employees the visual break they need to shake their cabin fever and stay productive. Commercial utility construction in Middlesex County, NJ and beyond is becoming more popular as people recognize that their employees want more beautiful spaces to enjoy in their break time. Not only does this increase productivity and maintain the mental and emotional health of your employees, but it will increase employee retention, as well. Investing in your employees’ wellbeing shows that you care, and it will make them more loyal to your company in turn. 

Landscaping Impresses Investors 

Your investors want to see you make the most of the assets you have. After all,their money is on the line, and a dirty lot outside of your building does not inspire confidence. If the company they invest in can’t even maintain their own property, what does that mean about their ability to maintain the company as a whole? In addition to pleasing your current investors, it also attracts new ones. A well-kept lot shows that your company is flourishing and that it takes great care in even the little details, both important aspects in any investment.

Sewer and Gas Control 

If you do landscaping, you have more control of the sewer, power, and gas lines below. Allowing others to control the land surrounding your company can lead to tree roots growing through your pipes, resulting in costly repairs. Professionals can be found on sites like icunj.us ,and they can help both with ensuring that your utility lines are protected with covers and guide you in your placement of landscaping installments to ensure that you don’t have flora or other contaminants attacking your utilities.

Pest Control 

Pests can pop out from anywhere. But if your common space is unkempt, you’ll be giving them the shelter they need to sneak into your building. Keep the bugs and rats at bay with beautiful, trimmed green spaces that reduce hiding places and make a hostile environment for them to build long-term habitats. If your land is well-maintained, the activity itself will discourage any pests from setting up shop, and keeping weeds and other sheltering plants away from the base of your building with landscaping will prevent invaders from getting too close.

When it comes to getting the most you can out of everything you’ve got, your outdoor common areas can be a key asset. However, if left unmaintained, they can act as a liability. Worse than use it or lose it, you need to take your outdoor spaces into deep consideration with the rest of your building maintenance if you want to prevent costly problems in the future. Take control of your property and make it work for you, rather than against you.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Warehouse Stuck in the Neolithic Age? 4 Ways to Automate Your Facility

When it comes to the warehouse industry, the future is automation. This involves several components that all work together in order to get the task done. Here are some of the ways that you can automate your facility and bring it into the next century. 

Cartonization 

Through the use of technology, you can save some money on your shipping costs by employing cartonization methods. This is where the size and number of boxes are calculated in the most efficient manner possible to get the order out the door. Automation has made this task a little bit easier because your employees don’t have to spend time trying to get all of your customer orders packaged into boxes safely for shipment. 

Robotic Technology 

Another advantage when it comes to automation is through the use of robots.There are any number of robotic technologies that can used across a variety of different types of manufacturing fields. For example, robotic arms can be used to remove and stock whole pallets or individual items on a shelving system in your warehouse. This may eliminate some of the concerns that are more prevalent when it comes to workplace injuries that could occur. 

Automatic Pallet Wrapping 

It may take two employees for you to be able wrap up your pallets for shipping without the use of technology. Automatic pallet wrapping systems are available for you to purchase from companies like Fox Packaging Services. The point of many these machines is that your employees only need to position the pallet and then push a button in order to have it done in the most efficient manner possible. This will prevent the loss of products during the shipping process. 

Automated Labeling Systems 

Labeling all of your products can be a tedious process. It can also lead to mistakes if you have a person completing this task. Using an automated printing and label applying machine ensures that the label is done correctly and applied in the correct location all of the time. It allows your employees to focus on the more important tasks when it comes to running your warehouse. More quality control steps can be taken to ensure that your products are the best on the market. 

There are advantages when it comes to the use of technology in manufacturing and warehouses. More automation often leads to higher-skilled labor who can work to refine the process further. Consider these reasons when it comes to the benefits of upgrading your facility.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

4 Types of Insurance You Need to Protect Your Small Business

Optimism is high among small business owners, with revenue and staff growth on the rise as 53% of small businesses reported that they planned to expand in 2018. Growth is great and indicates positive trends for many small business owners in various industries, but it also brings with it more questions regarding company compliance and protection as you work to cover all your bases. Business insurance is a tricky subject that really depends on the type of business you run and how you are operating, but if you want to ensure you are covered, you will want to take a look at these four policies.

General Liability Insurance

If you are just getting started and are only going to invest in one type of insurance for your small business, then it absolutely must be general liability insurance. This will ensure your company and all of the time and money you’ve invested into is safe as it protects your business and any employees from any damages incurred as the result of bodily injury, property damage, medical accidents or associated expenses, libel, slander, the cost of defending lawsuits, and settlement bonds or judgments required during an appeal procedure. Every small business, even if it is home-based, should invest in general liability insurance.

Professional Liability Insurance

This is particularly useful and important for businesses that provide services to customers. Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, covers you against any claims or damages caused to your clients that result from mistakes or failure to perform. General liability insurance policies generally do not provide this type of coverage and it is crucial in ensuring you are protected against any false claims as well as malpractice.

Business Owner’s Policy

If you are interested in getting a little bit of every type of coverage, try looking for a business owner’s policy that includes various features that benefit your small business. This type of policy will not only include all of the types of insurance you are required to carry as a business owner, but it will also include other things such as business interruption insurance, property insurance, vehicle coverage, liability insurance, and crime insurance. You can usually tailor your specific plan to fit what you need, making this type of policy one of the best as it often costs less than the total cost of all the individual coverage you might be looking for.

Personal Property Insurance 

Seeing as most small businesses operate out of homes, it is important to note that home insurance doesn’t always cover home-based losses. You may be required to add additional riders to any existing home insurance policy in order to cover losses associated with your business, which is where personal property insurance might come in handy. If you own the building you operate out of and it is not covered by any other insurance, personal property insurance will cover the property inside of it, such as office equipment, computers, inventory or tools.

Staying Insured From the Get-Go

While it may not seem so if you are just getting started, as your small business grows and takes on additional risks and responsibilities, business insurance will quickly become a must. By taking these four different types of business insurance policies into consideration, you can formulate a plan that makes sense for the size of your business, the industry you operate within, and what type of product or service you provide.

Guest Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

4 Ways Businesses Benefit From Outsourcing Services

In the past, small to medium-sized businesses had a much harder time competing with the ‘big boys’ industries  due to a lack of adequate infrastructure within their organizations. However, thanks to the most recent technological breakthroughs, this is no longer the case, as small businesses all around the world are given a more level playing field by outsourcing their non-core processes elsewhere. As such, these non-core processes can include anything ranging from marketing and design to IT support. Moreover, with the use of new cloud and project-management software, outsourcing these processes has never been simpler. Yet, how exactly do small businesses benefit from this lucrative arrangement? Keep on reading to find out.

Lower operating costs

Hiring new staff to take care of your in-house marketing and IT sectors is a huge investment for small business owners. According to the Training magazine, on average, companies spend around 1,000 US dollars per learner, and this does not account for the time and effort it takes to post job ads, review CVs, and interview potential employees. Also, the more workers you employ, the more money you have to spend on equipment, office space, workers compensation, and taxes. Hence, the most logical solution for small businesses is to go lean, in order to maximize efficiency and lower the cost of operating.

Outsourcing services helps small businesses do just that, as the cost of hiring another company to, for example, manage your company’s marketing efforts is much lower than doing it yourself. With larger corporations, it’s a totally different story, as they can handle their own in-house marketing sectors due to having a lot more resources at their disposal. This is why, by outsourcing, smaller companies can be at an equal footing with the big corporate giants, as it allows them to enlist the help of professional marketers at a much lower cost. 

Access to the latest technology

Another reason why outsourcing is so beneficial for small businesses is the fact that outsourcing companies bring their own equipment and technology into the fold. A good example of this phenomenon can be seen in the legal industry, where Artificial Intelligence is seeing an increase in use. Especially so in the process of legal transcription, where sophisticated AI plays a crucial role in transferring raw video and audio data into a more accurate, readable format. Without this, legal firms would struggle to process vital materials in time for the next proceeding. By using this kind of human-aided AI services and technology, businesses save precious time and increase efficiency.

Increased focus on core business processes

The thing with some small businesses, and startups in general, is that they usually operate on a much tighter deadline and do so with a skeleton crew. By outsourcing all of their repetitive and time-consuming back office tasks, such as sales, marketing, and IT support, small businesses get to focus all of their attention on core-business functions, which greatly improves their overall efficiency and productivity. Thus, the key staff gets to work on improving critical business areas instead of wasting their time dilly-dallying with computer updates and composing new marketing strategies. Furthermore, apart from lowering the cost of re-training the existing employees to accept new roles, focusing on key business elements helps small businesses cultivate talent, which is crucial for staying ahead of the curve and gaining a real advantage over your competitors.

Acquire the assistance of business experts

Training your own staff members to perform non-core functions won’t yield immediate results. In fact, this approach will lead to many trials and errors before they finally get the hang of it. Moreover, some of these tasks take weeks, if not months, to learn, which is time better spent elsewhere.

Hence, it’s a good idea to employ the services of a company which is an expert in that field. This will not only bring in more results, but do so at a much faster pace. Plus, you get some real, concrete, advice from people who know exactly what they’re doing. Also, by outsourcing you’re actually opening the door of your business to global talent and not just settling for second-best in your immediate vicinity. At the end of the day, you get to pay for quality services which would otherwise be too costly on your own.

All in all, outsourcing services is a great way for small businesses to stay ahead of the competition by funneling priceless manpower and resources into development and growth instead of wasting it on irrelevant back office tasks.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

3 Reasons Your Company Will Need Legal Assistance

Whether you’re just starting out in the business world or you’ve been running a successful company for a while; there is never a bad time to converse with an expert legal team and make sure you have them waiting in the wings. All entrepreneurs will need specialist legal assistance at some point during their careers. It is sensible to make all the arrangements ahead of time, so you don’t face any delays when it comes to getting the help you require in emergencies. If the lawyers already know the ins and outs of your operation; they will swing into action much faster than they otherwise would have done.

Patent and trademark disputes

It is vital that all entrepreneurs apply for suitable legal cover if they plan to launch a new brand and bring original product designs to the market. If you don’t have trademarks in place for your terms and patents for your concepts; there is a chance another company with more cash could come along and blow you out of the marketplace and cost you a fortune. With that in mind, even with the right protections in place; you could still face issues, and that is why you need a lawyer. If you discover another business infringes on your patents; you’ll want to put an end to that straight away.

Employee dismissal claims

If you employ other workers; there will come a time when you have a dispute with them that you cannot resolve. Perhaps the person was late for work over and over again, and so you decided to fire them. Like it or not, employees have rights, and you can’t always take away their source of income on a whim. So, that person might end up dragging your business through the courts in the hope of reinstating their position or making a compensation claim. If you do not have legal assistance; your operation will stagnate because you will have to take your eyes off the ball.

Road traffic accidents

As a business owner, you never know when you will get a call from a semi truck accident lawyer or someone else in that industry letting you know they plan to make a claim against your firm. You become especially vulnerable to issues like that if your company makes deliveries to customers. If you have drivers on the road all day long, it is only a matter of time before one of them makes a mistake and ends up causing a smash. Without the right legal representatives in your corner, there is a chance you will end up getting a raw deal in the courtroom.

Now you know why it’s so critical to find the right legal specialists to assist your company; it is time to search online, ask associates for recommendations, and sort the wheat from the chaff. Look for law firms that specialize in the business world, and try to select a firm that has lots of other clients in similar positions to you. If you do that; you shouldn’t have too many problems when it comes to making sure you don’t get ripped off in the courtroom.

Health Hazards Around Your New Office

When you’re just starting out in business, there’s a good chance you hired out the building you worked in, you put up with a lot from the landlord, and you saved as much of your profits as you could to make sure you could afford an expansion sooner rather than later. And now that time has come! But you’ll want to make sure your new office has everything you need to work with, and that you’re not missing out on a few safety checks in all the excitement. So here’s a small checklist of what could be hazardous to you in your new area.

Make sure you can focus on your meeting, and not every employee who’s been taken off sick in the past week!

If the Office is a Recent Development

If you’re moving into a building that’s been constructed within the last year or so, and you know what the site used to be before it was turned into a more productive commercial space, make sure the place you’re now working in isn’t affected by anything that could be living in the soil. You can always have the surroundings of your new office building checked.

Maybe it was an old quarry that had been defunct for years, or maybe no plants have successfully grown; anything that could be a warning sign is something you can have checked out. And there’s always some contaminated soil disposal companies out there to remove this unique kind of hazard to make life safer for everyone. You’re meant to be working to make life better for you, not coming into contact with something potentially life threatening!

Is There a Wet Floor Sign Out?

It’s so crucial that wet floors be signposted, but so often this can get waylaid because of the hustle and bustle of the office. But all in all, if you don’t mark that a floor has recently been cleaned to someone who’s just going about their day walking down a corridor, and then they slip and fall, you can have a compensation claim on your hands.

And as a small business, that’s definitely not something you want to handle! You need to build reputation among the business circle, and if your employees aren’t raving about you because of your neglect as a boss, you’re going to be at a serious disadvantage. So make sure you’ve got plenty of signs for the cleaners to stick out!

Have You Got the Right Lighting?

If there’s a dark storage room in the back of the office, you could very easily cause a bunch of boxes to topple down on your head when you’re rummaging through it. Similarly, if the lighting over the desk area isn’t right, you could have all kinds of vision problems on your hands, and a huge loss in productivity! Hand out some desk lamps if you need to, just make sure everyone can always see.

There’s a lot of hazards in the workplace, but most of them are preventable.