Workplace Safety

Help Prevent Theft and Other Crimes

  • Keep your purse, wallet, keys, or other valuables with you at all times or locked in a drawer or closet.  Never leave purses in customer areas or even in an unlocked back room.
  • Check the identity of any strangers who are in your office.  Ask whom they are visiting and if you can assist them.  If anyone makes you uncomfortable, inform security or management immediately.
  • Be aware of customers or strangers who arrive together, but separate from each other.  It is a common strategy for one subject to distract staff while another subject commits a theft, sometimes even going into the back room.
  • Don’t stay late if you’ll be alone in the office. 
  • Create a buddy system for walking to parking lots after hours.  Have your key ready as approach your vehicle.  Lock your car immediately upon entry.  Call 9-1-1 if you notice strangers hanging out in the lot, you might save someone else from a crime.
  • Commercial businesses should develop a call-around phone list with nearby businesses to share information, such as a suspicious customer that was just in a store and may be visiting other stores.

General Safety

  • Know your company’s emergency plan. If your company does not have such a plan, volunteer to help develop one.
  • Know the exit routes and evacuation plans in your building. Know at least two exit routes from each room, if possible.  Be able to escape in the dark by knowing how many desks or cubicles are between your workstation and two of the nearest exits.
  • Make special emergency plans for co-workers who are disabled or may require assistance during an emergency.
  • Know the location of fire extinguishers and medical kits.
  • If the company does not supply an emergency kit, keep your own emergency supplies (flashlight, water bottle, nonperishable food, etc.) in a desk drawer or locker.
  • Report any broken or flickering lights, dimly lit corridors, broken windows, and doors that don’t lock properly.
  • If you notice signs of potential violence in a fellow employee, report this to the appropriate person. Immediately report any incidents of sexual harassment.
  • If leaving your worksite, let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Have a printed list of important phone numbers (e.g., your spouse’s number at work, your children’s school numbers) at your desk. Do not rely on electronic lists, such as direct-dial phone numbers and computer organizers.

Working Safely At Home

  • If you work at home, in addition to making your home safe and secure, hang window treatments that obstruct the view into your office.
  • Review your insurance policy, which may require an extra rider to cover a home office.
  • Mark your equipment with identification numbers, and keep an updated inventory list (with photos, if possible) in a home safe or a bank safe-deposit box. It’s a good idea to keep backups of your work in a secure, separate location as well.
  • When meeting a client for the first time, arrange to meet in a public place such as a coffee shop or library, not at your home.  Let someone else know about your appointments.
  • Follow the same caution with deliveries and pickups that businesses do.  Anyone making a delivery to your home office should be properly identified before you open the door.  Do not let the person enter your home.
  • If you own the company, take a good look at your business - physical layout, employees, hiring practices, operating procedures, and special security risks. Assess the company’s vulnerability to all kinds of crime, from burglary to embezzlement.  Follow basic crime prevention principles as described on other pages at this website.

Special Areas For Concern

  • Reception area – is the receptionist trained in what to do in an emergency?  Can the receptionist lock the front door if needed?
  • Stairwells and remote corridors – Avoid using enclosed stairs when alone.  Request improvements in lighting these areas if needed.
  • Elevators – Don’t get into an elevator alone with a stranger or a person who is acting odd or threateningly.  If you find yourself in an elevator with someone who makes you uncomfortable, use the keypad to exit immediately at the very next floor.
  • Restrooms – An attacker can hide in stalls or corners.  Make sure restrooms are locked and only employees have keys.  Be extra cautious when using restrooms available to the public.
  • Parking lot – Insist on good lighting for employee parking areas and report any lighting outages.  Use the buddy system as described above. 
Source: National Crime Prevention Council