While there are currently no federal laws requiring meal or rest breaks, many employers allot employees short breaks throughout the day as they help increase productivity and improve quality of work.

Break rooms provide a space for employees to collaborate in a relaxed environment and temporarily escape day-to-day responsibilities. With people constantly coming in and out of break rooms, it’s important to make sure basic security is in place.

Ensure the safety and comfort of your business and employees by securing break rooms with the proper equipment and guidelines detailed below.

Access Codes

An access control system collects data and monitors entry points to better secure employee break rooms. With the inclusion of unique access codes assigned to each individual, businesses can:

  • Control who gains access to the room.
  • Eliminate the needs for keys.
  • Keep tabs on who enters or exits the break room.
  • Note when certain people access the room.

Video Surveillance Cameras

In 2014, employee theft was the single biggest cause of loss to retail businesses. Untrustworthy employees can pose as serious threats to coworkers and to the business itself. However, employee theft is preventable.

Visible surveillance cameras can discourage internal crimes and help prevent company loss. With video surveillance equipment, businesses are able to:

  • Monitor employee behavior, especially near points of sale.
  • Play back video footage when something goes awry.
  • Ensure employees are using their personal access codes.
  • Sync cameras with access control to record short clips when someone inputs his or her code.

Before installing video surveillance cameras, businesses should verify with their state’s department of labor to ensure they are positioning cameras legally. 

Fire Alarms

Break rooms often serve as a place for employees to eat and typically provide a microwave or stove to reheat food. However, these appliances are the two biggest causes of break room fires.

Businesses should install smoke detectors and monitored alarms in break rooms to identify emergencies, promptly dispatch personnel and ensure the safety of their staff, customers and property.

Furthermore, employees can use best practices to mitigate the chance of sparking an accidental fire. Some safety tips to consider include:

  • Do not leave food in the microwave unattended.
  • Turn off the oven when you are finished cooking.
  • Clean out crumbs
  • Never place Styrofoam or metal into appliances.

Safety Guidelines

The break room should be a secure and healthy environment for employees to de-stress and refuel throughout the day. With people constantly filtering in and out, employers must define additional guidelines to be followed by all staff members.

Businesses should outline basic expectations for employees to keep the break room clean and safe, such as:

  • Wash hands or use sanitizer. Practice good hygiene to prevent illness from affecting all staff.
  • Clean up eating area. Prevent viruses and bacteria from spreading by sanitizing tables and chairs.
  • Provide a first aid kit. Supply bandages, gauze and any other appropriate first aid supplies.
  • Educate employees on security features. Share an escape plan with employees in the case of an emergency.
  • Label all food items. Avoid cross contamination to protect employees with food allergies.

Break rooms provide a comfortable place for employees to refuel and socialize throughout the day. Businesses should work to maintain a safe environment by investing in the appropriate equipment to secure the space.

Image Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr