Business leaders tell us how companies can play it safe

This is the third installment of the special section for the Las Vegas Business Press Top Workplaces of Nevada. This week, we asked local business leaders what Nevada companies could do to provide their employees with a safe workplace in 2020. Check back with us for our next section to be published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal Dec. 1 when we will ask our industry experts what is the biggest thing they think will affect our workforces in 2020.

— Virginia Toalepai, president and CEO, World Wide Safety

Being proactive to safety is essential in any workplace environment. When a company embodies a strong safety culture, its exposure to potential hazards are drastically reduced. No shortcut is worth an individual’s life — taking safety seriously is both the responsibility of the employer and the employee. At the end of the day, we all need to ensure everyone gets to go home to their families.

— Michael F. Bolognini, vice president and market leader Cox Communications

Employee safety and well-being is a top priority at Cox. We plan for scenarios ranging from extreme weather to man-made disasters to acts of terrorism to workplace violence, and have programs in place to quickly address any of these types of situations. Our processes also include notifying our workforce of critical situations and providing support to employees and their families in need. We maintain a dedicated team that prepares for and practices these plans to ensure our readiness.

— Keith Lynam, president of the statewide Nevada Realtors

Be aware. Realtors are extremely vulnerable because of the nature of what we do, namely show homes that are a lot of times vacant or empty. Unfortunately, many meet prospective homebuyers without meeting them in the safety of their office first. The best advice is to never meet anyone without following safety guidelines by the National Association of Realtors.

— Ryan Bowen, owner, La Paloma Funeral Services

Businesses can ensure a safe workplace for employees by putting employees first who are in potential harm’s way. In my company, the Safety Committee is run by those employees. Managers are directed by those employees in safety operations and requirements, and their power is backed by me as the owner. It is a clear indication that safety comes first.

— George J. Chanos, former Attorney General of Nevada, chairman of Capriotti’s, author of “Millennial Samurai”

Workplace hazards take many forms. They include physical dangers inherent in construction and manufacturing jobs, with potential threats to personal safety, and/or human dignity, created by practices and cultures that encourage or allow for discrimination, exploitation, intimidation and/or sexual harassment. The solution is training, education and enforcement. Companies need to train management to understand their legal and ethical obligations to their employees. They need to educate their employees to understand their rights and their obligations to others. And they need to enforce company rules, policies, procedures and the law, to create and maintain a culture that promotes and contributes to a safe and healthy workplace.

— Kennedy Sanders, instructor, Sheet Metal Workers Local 88, general foreman, P1Group

One of the easiest ways for business owners to protect their employees is to make sure their smoke control systems, including the fire and smoke dampers in the air handling ducts, have been inspected. These dampers keep smoke from using the HVAC system to travel from room to room during a fire, and can easily fail over time if they aren’t tested. One of the reasons smoke spread throughout the MGM during the fire in 1980 was due to malfunctioning dampers. Inspection and maintenance by a certified and licensed professional can help keep these working properly. One fire and smoke damper may save the lives of many people inside an occupied building if the required maintenance and service inspections are performed. If the system isn’t maintained, by the time there is a fire, it’s already too late.

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