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Are you asking for a stampede to happen? Avoid tragedy with these five facts to combat workplace overcrowding

by , 15 July 2013
Do your employees have to scramble over each other just to get their jobs done? It may seem like a simple inconvenience now, but if there's an emergency, workplace overcrowding can be a huge hazard. Stampedes killed 17 people this week, so don't put your employees at risk! Here are the crucial tips to manage workplace overcrowding...

The horrifying news of 17 people killed in an Indonesian stampede (BBC News) brings to light the danger of packing loads of people in a tight space. Are you making this mistake as an employer?

The Health and Safety Advisor reveals these five overcrowding facts to avoid a similar tragedy…

Overcrowding Fact #1: Each employee needs 2.25m squared floor space

This doesn't include the space under their desks. If employees have less than this amount of space, you're not meeting your OHSA employer obligations.

Overcrowding Fact #2: You must, BY LAW, keep emergency exits clear

Experts say that the Indonesian stampede happened in part because only one of five emergency exits was unlocked, causing scared people to bottleneck at the exit and crush one another. If you only unlock emergency exits when the OHSA inspector comes around, you're asking for trouble.

Overcrowding Fact #3: Your emergency exit plan is useless unless it's compliant

Did you know your emergency route may not contain any escalators, and that you must have permission to conduct business in any lobby you use as an escape route? You must walk through your emergency plan step-by-step to ensure it's compliant.  

Overcrowding Fact #4: You must teach your employees this crucial difference

Even if there isn't an evacuation or emergency, overcrowding can severely impact your business. Teaching employees the difference between personal space (a perimeter extending 0.5m beyond a person's body) and social space (from 0.5m to 2m away from a person) will keep stress levels down. If employees feel their personal space is violated, it creates tension and conflict in the workplace.

Overcrowding Fact #5: Breathing room is critical to productivity

Very often the ventilation in a building isn't equipped to handle the amount of air changes per hour that a business needs, especially if the amount of workers in a certain space is near maximum capacity. If your employees do physically exertive work, this is even more crucial. If your workplace is stuffy and the workers seem groggy or sleepy, it might be an air quality problem. Ensure your air quality is tested so every employee gets enough oxygen to be at maximum productivity.

Now that you know these five crucial overcrowding facts, you can ensure your workplace has room for brilliant work to take place.

Turn to chapter O01 of your Health and Safety Advisor to read about how overcrowding impacts your productivity in 7 ways –
and 7 solutions for them

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