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Most U.S. office workers have no idea what to do in case of an emergency

June 4, 2012
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Emergency exits blocked at Rite Aid store.A new office health and safety survey from Staples.com shows some big gaps in office workers’ awareness of companies’ safety plans and preparedness, a situation that could lead to increased accidents and injuries. The survey, conducted in advance of National Safety Month, found that managers were far better informed on workplace safety preparedness than office workers, who were uncertain on what they should do in case of an emergency.

Although nearly 70 percent of managers say their company has an emergency communication plan, almost half of office workers are either unsure if a plan exists or say their company doesn’t have a plan. In addition, 50 percent of office workers said they participate in safety drills only once every few years or never. Only 19 percent of office workers think their company is prepared for a major medical emergency.

According to the survey, managers were almost 50 percent more likely than non-managers to be able to locate their company’s safety-related supplies such as defibrillators, eye wash, dust masks, and caution and wet floor signs.

An effective safety and health program can save $4 to $6 for every $1 invested, according to OSHA.1

Additional safety findings:

  • When it comes to fire, more than 70 percent of both managers and office workers felt their company was somewhat or very prepared.
  • When it comes to flooding only 50 percent of employees felt their company was adequately prepared. This is a particularly concerning statistic because, according to the National Weather Service Forecast Office, flooding causes more damage in the United States than any other severe weather-related event, costing an average of $4.6 billion a year.2
  • While 56 percent of managers said they were either very prepared or somewhat prepared in case of a hazardous material exposure, only 23 percent of office workers said they would know what to do in that circumstance.

About Staples

Staples, the world’s largest office products company is headquartered outside Boston.

1 OSHA.com, “Q&A’s for Small Business Employers,” www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3163/osha3163.html

2 National Weather Service Forecast Office, “Flood Safety Awareness Week,” www.wrh.noaa.gov/tfx/hydro/FAW/fawinsurance.php?wfo=tfx

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