More than half of workers polled (55 percent) said they were expected to show up to work in severe weather conditions, though nearly half of respondents said they felt unsafe doing so, according to a Staples survey of 400 office workers and 400 decision makers at organizations of all sizes across the United States.
Nearly 30 percent of office workers surveyed said they never received safety training, compared to only five percent of decision makers who said the same.
The survey results indicate employees and employers are not on same page when it comes to safety training and procedures, preventing them from collectively responding to situations in the safest way possible.
Getting work done when an emergency strikes is a problem for many businesses, as 55 percent of office workers are unable to telecommute. Communication is another issue, with nearly 30 percent of office workers saying they receive last minute notifications--or worse, none at all--about office closures.
Bob Risk, national safety, health and wellness manager for Staples, told eWEEK that mobile technology is making it possible for employers to provide appropriate training for employees—wherever they happen to be.
"Tablets and mobile devices have made it much easier to train people at the office, at home or at another remote location," Risk said. "With mobile technology, people don’t need to be present in the office. Most safety training still occurs in person, as 55 percent of office workers are unable to telecommute, according to our survey results, but mobile technology has opened doors for businesses with flexible telecommuting policies."
More work needs to be done, the survey suggested, as nearly 30 percent of office workers didn’t know if they had a resident safety expert to turn to with safety concerns or questions, versus only four percent of business decision makers.
In addition, decision makers, on average, were more aware of safety equipment and plans in the workplace, differing from office workers by 20 percent on average when it comes to knowing about fires, medical emergencies and power outages.
Overall, decision makers responded higher than office workers when asked if their workplace is prepared for natural disasters and associated issues, such as power outages (69 percent versus 56 percent); hot temperatures (54 percent versus 43 percent), and snow and ice (50 percent versus 38 percent).
Risk said businesses need to communicate properly with employees, both in times of emergency and not, and noted that different means of communication, such as social media, email, and phone calls are all effective ways to communicate emergency plans and provide safety tips throughout the year.
He also warned that not equipping employees with the right technology could be detrimental to a business, and if possible, advised companies to provide workers with the equipment they need to work safely from home during an emergency or natural disaster.