Workplace safety has been a growing concern for workers in the modern era. After all, in spite of all of the safety concerns inherently woven into the modern business model, there were still over 5,000 deaths on the job in 2018 in the U.S. alone.
Even if you work in an industry where the likelihood of death is microscopic, there are still a variety of concerns even within the safest of workspaces. For instance, nearly a third of the workplace-related injuries in 2013 were directly attributed to poor workplace ergonomics — a seemingly minor yet important consideration for those sitting in a chair all day long.
The point is, everything from slip and fall accidents and mental health to legitimate life or death situations should be taken into consideration. If you’re looking for a job in a safe work environment, here are a few specific conditions to keep in mind while you’re in search of employment.
Feel Out a Company’s View on Premises Liability
While you don’t necessarily want to enter an interview with a list of aggressive questions about a company’s safety considerations, it’s still important to do some sleuthing to that effect throughout the hiring process.
For instance, if possible, try to discover what the company has done to address basic safety concerns like premises liability. If they’re a storefront, do they de-ice their walk regularly in the winter? Even if they’re a B2B operation, do they guard against slip and fall accidents within their offices? If they have a pet-friendly policy, do they have safeguards against dog bites and animal attacks?
If you can discover a company’s attitude towards these small yet significant matters, it can go a long way towards figuring out if an office environment will be safe to work in.
Look for Structure
Another way to get a feel for the security measures (or lack thereof) that a company might have in place is by looking for the little signs. For example, if a company has a thought-out, well-developed, and easily understandable employee handbook, chances are they’re genuinely invested in the well-being of their employees.
Another easy giveaway is if an employer ensures that a professional counselor or other mental health resources are available for its employees. Caring for the mental health of employees is a critical responsibility of the modern employer and one that should be front and center in their safety policies.
Inquire After the Silent Killers
In the episode “The Surplus” of NBC’s incredibly successful workplace parody The Office, HR rep Toby Flenderson promotes the idea that the office should use a financial surplus to have the office’s air quality tested. He sites concerns such as asbestos and radon that could be harming the office workers without their even being aware of it, with the thoughtful rep referring to them as “silent killers.”
Likewise, when on the job hunt, it’s important to gauge if a potential employer is going to embrace the battle against things like radon, asbestos, and mold. Will they go the extra mile for their workforce’s health or do they mimic Michael Scott, who ultimately rejects Toby Flenderson’s suggestion out of hand by calling him the “silent killer.”
It may be humorous when depicted on a sitcom, but long term exposure to hazardous chemicals can be extremely dangerous, and things like mold and even dust can exacerbate allergies. As such, it’s important to keep them in mind when considering the safety of a potential workplace.
Consider Job Security
While tripping at work or suffering from asbestos are legitimate daily concerns, it’s also important to keep general job security in mind, too. This is easy to overlook, but if you move to a city or industry that is atrophying, you may find yourself under perpetual stress before long as you try to survive a toxic, panicked work environment that is simply trying to survive. This kind of scenario is hardly conducive to individual health and safety, as a company in this situation will likely be redirecting resources towards its very survival.
Instead, look for jobs in areas that are up and coming. It’s easy to find constantly updated lists of states and cities that are flourishing. By focusing your job search in these areas, you can ensure that you’re positioned in a geographic location that will continue to grow along with your career.
In addition, there are many smaller, hidden personal benefits to this kind of move. For instance, if you purchase a home in a growing urban or suburban area as you relocate for work, there is a good chance that your property’s value will naturally increase without your lifting a finger.
Finding a Safe Place to Work
The world is a much safer place than it’s been in the past. However, just because employers are collectively more aware of the inherent dangers in a workplace doesn’t mean they all respond to those dangers in the same fashion.
As you search for a new HR position — or any employee position, really — don’t let logistics, finances, and job descriptions shoulder out the consideration of how safe each place is to work. Both your short and your long term health can be impacted by how safe your workplace is. After all, you’ll likely end up spending upwards of 90,000 hours in that space. So make sure it’s safe.