Special Topics in Safety Management

Get ‘Schooled’ on Your Safety Checklists

We can learn more from schools than ABCs. Schools place a special emphasis on safety and security, and many of their practices can be adapted to your workplace.

We can all agree that children are our most precious resource, so it only makes sense that schools go to extraordinary lengths to ensure their safety.

A shining example of this is the School Safety Audit Checklist compiled by the Virginia State Education Department and modified by the New York State Police (many elements of the document are used by other state education departments as well).

Since employees are your most precious resource, we think it would be well worth your while to compare your safety checklists with the Virginia school plan to see if your safety plans and measures make the grade. You may just find you have some homework to do.

“An audit is one tool that, if used effectively, can provide a snapshot of the school’s level of safety and identify those areas that need improvement,” the School Safety Audit Checklist states. The minimum components of the audit process that should be assessed include:

  • Development and enforcement of policies
  • Procedures for data collection
  • Development of intervention and prevention plans
  • Level of staff development
  • Opportunities for student involvement (in your case, employee involvement)
  • Standards for safety and security personnel
  • Safety and security of buildings and grounds
  • Development of emergency response plans

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While the Virginia checklists were obviously designed for the school environment, you’ll find that if you replace the words “students” with “employees,” “school” with “facility,” and “classroom” with “office,” most elements of the checklists are just as applicable to your workplace. Keep those replacements in mind as you look at some of these school checklist action items.

Building Exterior:

  • There is adequate lighting around the building.
  • Lighting is provided at entrances and other points of possible intrusion.
  • The school grounds are free from trash or debris.
  • The school is free of graffiti.
  • Visual surveillance of bicycle racks is possible.
  • Visual surveillance of parking lots from main office is possible.
  • Parking lot is lighted properly and all lights are functioning.
  • Accessible lenses are protected by an unbreakable material.
  • All areas of buildings and grounds are accessible to patrolling security vehicles.
  • Students/staff are issued parking stickers for assigned parking areas.
  • Student access to parking area is restricted to arrival and dismissal times.
  • Staff and visitor parking are designated as such.
  • Outside hardware has been removed from all doors except at points of entry.
  • Ground floor windows:

    • No broken panes                               
    • Locking hardware in working order                                 

  • Basement windows are protected with grill or well cover.
  • Doors are locked when classrooms are vacant.
  • High-risk areas are protected by high-security locks and an alarm system:

    • Main office                              
    • Cafeteria                                 
    • Boiler room                              
    • Electrical rooms                                 
    • Phone line access closet                          

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Building Interior:

  • There is only one clearly marked and designated entrance for visitors.
  • Multiple entries to the building are controlled and supervised.
  • Administrative staff maintain a highly visible profile
  • Signage directing visitors to the main office is clearly posted.
  • Visitors are required to sign in.
  • Visitors are issued I.D. cards or badges.
  • Proper identification is required of vendors and repairmen.
  • The following areas are properly lighted:

    • Hallways                                  
    • Bathrooms                               
    • Stairwells                                 

  • Doors accessing internal courtyards are securely locked from the inside.
  • Exit signs are clearly visible and pointing in the correct direction.
  • Switches and controls are properly located and protected.
  • Access to electrical panels is restricted.
  • Directional lights are aimed at the building.
  • Files and records are maintained in locked, vandal-proof, fireproof containers or vaults.
  • The school keeps a record of all maintenance on doors, windows, lockers, or other areas of the school.                     
  • All equipment is permanently marked with an identification number.

In the school setting, parents and boards of education make sure that safety measures are up to snuff. In the workplace, OSHA is the 800-pound gorilla making sure you look out for your workers’ safety. In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll look at some OSHA-specific action items and at a program that can move your safety checklists to the head of the class.